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by Abigail Van Buren

It's for Your Benefit That Earnings History Is Correct

DEAR ABBY: I recently received a Social Security statement of earnings, going back to the beginning of my work history in 1958. When I read it, I realized that one employer never reported my earnings during the four years I worked for him at two different companies. He told me it made no difference because Social Security uses only the last eight quarters to determine what would be available when I retire. Wrong!

I contacted Social Security and told them there was a mistake in my statement. (Luckily I had not thrown out any of my 1040s or W-2s.) They advised me how to correct the statement of earnings, and within two weeks I received a correction.

My advice to everyone who is employed: Save all your 1040s and W-2s, and check the statement you receive from Social Security to be certain all your income was reported. -- ANNETTE M. ZELKO, WEST CLARKSVILLE, N.Y.

DEAR ANNETTE: This year the Social Security Administration (SSA) has begun sending annual statements to workers age 25 and over who are not currently receiving benefits. These statements include the worker's Social Security-covered earnings history and estimates of future benefits.

Although there was a time when only certain work quarters were considered in determining benefits, the rules have changed, so it is important to be certain your statements are a true reflection of your earnings and the taxes withheld for Social Security. It's easier to correct errors when they are fresh and you have the forms to prove your earnings. For more information, call (800) 772-1213 or visit www.ssa.gov.