Putting aside politics and the ongoing debate about its long term viability, Social Security remains a core component of retirement planning. Knowing your estimated benefits at age 62, full retirement age and age 70 is important in developing a retirement strategy and deciding when to begin receiving Social Security payments.

In the past, the Social Security Administration would mail you a paper statement annually just before your birthday with an estimate of your future benefits and a summary of your earnings record. Due to budget cuts, the SSA stopped mailing statements to all workers last year. Beginning last February, it resumed these mailings to workers 60 and older who aren’t already receiving benefits. Later this year, it will mail paper statements to workers turning age 25. Thankfully, the SSA just launched a new website for the rest of us that provides all the information previously included in the annual mailings.

In order to access this website, you need to visit https://www.ssa.gov/mystatement and create a user account. Be prepared to answer a series of security questions based on your financial history as part of this process. Once your account is established, you will be able to log in at any time to review your records. You can even print out a copy of that familiar paper statement, if you like, to keep in your files.

I recommend accessing your account once a year after your taxes have been filed. Check to make sure your earnings record correctly reflects the wages you reported and contact the SSA to correct discrepancies.