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Social Security Administration Wants Americans to Start Thinking About Retirement

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Even if you're still decades from retirement, the Social Security Administration wants you to start thinking about it today. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.

A new outreach campaign by the Social Security Administration plays on how prone we are to procrastination.

The message, according to Everett Lo, the public affairs project manager for the Social Security Administration in the New York Region, is that while it's okay to put off some things, "When you're talking about retirement planning, someday is today."

While it's understandable that many people don't really think about their social security benefits until they are nearing retirement age, the administration wants you to take a more active role. They are encouraging workers to set up an online account that will enable them, among other things, to see their social security earnings statement.

"Which shows you how much you've paid into the program, and an estimate of what you're going to get when you retire," Lo says.

A hard copy of that document used to be mailed out once a year, but no longer, meaning workers need to consciously look for it in order to see that information.

It's just an estimate based on your current age and salary, but it's an important tool because it gives you a number you can use when calculating what you'll need to save for retirement.

"Remember that your social security benefit is only one part of your retirement package," Lo says. "It never was intended to be your sole source of income when you no longer choose to work."

Even if that's still decades away, social security isn't just about retirement. The site also tells you what your disability benefit would be, as well the survivor benefit your spouse or child may be eligible for upon your death. Again, not something you really want to think about, but important to know.

There are also a number of calculators, like the retirement estimator, which allows you to see your earnings under some hypothetical what-if scenarios.

"What if I stop working now? What if I take my benefit at 63 but take a huge pay cut, or suddenly start working for a job that pays me 10 times as much as I used to before? Am I still going to get the same amount from social security?" Lo says.

To set up an online account, go to socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. Once you do, Lo suggests you sign in once a year to make sure your earnings statement is accurate and to see what your estimated payment will be.

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