To that point, 65 percent of people close to retirement didn't know that you have to apply to the Social Security Administration three months before you receive your first benefits check. And 9 percent believed that the agency would contact them when it was time to receive benefits.
You are mostly on your own when it comes to Social Security notices. The SSA only sends out paper statements to people age 60 and over who aren't receiving benefits and who don't have a My Social Security online account.
My Social Security is the best place to learn the basics of the program, said David Freitag, a financial planning consultant at the MassMutual Financial Group. Freitag recommends people review their annual Social Security statements at least once a year.
Check to make sure the earnings record on your Social Security statement is accurate, especially for years where you've switched jobs. You can correct errors within three years, three months and 15 days following the year of the mistake. If you miss the deadline, it's still worth it to try to fix the statements because the SSA has been known to cut people some slack.