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Five resolutions for 2007

JOHN VOGT • Jan 13, 2007 at 11:45 AM

As Americans rang in the new year two weeks ago, many of them had a list of resolutions to carry with them throughout 2007. People everywhere make New Year's resolutions. If your list is a little short, if you didn't make one, or need to already start all over again, I'd like to give you a few suggested Social Security resolutions for 2007.

• Social Security Resolution #1: Plan for Retirement Now.

Whether you'll retire in two years or 22, it's good to know ahead of time how much you might expect from Social Security. And we provide easy ways to figure it out. Three months before your birthday you'll get your Social Security Statement in the mail. It will show your earnings record for past years and estimate your benefit amounts for disability, survivors and both full retirement and early retirement.

If you just can't wait for your new statement, visit our Web site. You can request that a statement be mailed to you, or you can use our benefits calculators to plug in your earnings and get an instant estimate.

Visit our Web site at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/mystatement/ for more on the statement. To use our benefits calculators, visit http://www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/calculators.htm and determine how much you'll be due.

• Social Security Resolution #2: Save for Your Future.

Social Security can provide a financial foundation for your retirement, but it was never intended to be your sole source of retirement income. You should do some saving in order to ensure a comfortable retirement. It can be hard to save for your future, but it is essential. Whether you're a veteran investor or you're just starting out, it's important to your financial future to put away some comfortable padding for your nest egg.

• Social Security Resolution #3: Compare and Save - Your Records.

Compare the number on your Social Security card to the number on your W-2s or payroll statements and make sure they're one and the same. This is especially important for people who change jobs often. If the numbers don't match, you may not be getting credit for all the Social Security and Medicare taxes you're paying. That could mean a reduction in benefits. If there is a mismatch, it can be fixed. Let your employer know, and contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or locally at (423) 247-9820.

• Social Security Resolution #4: List All of Your Dependents.

Not just your children, but all dependents need to be accounted for; they need to have their own numbers. Without a Social Security number, your dependents can not be claimed on your tax return. Social Security numbers are also important in the event that you apply for federal benefits on behalf of your children or dependent family members.

• Social Security Resolution #5: Safeguard Your Social Security Number.

We don't have to tell you that identity theft is a prominent crime these days, but we would like to remind you to keep your number safe. Never carry your Social Security card with you in your wallet or purse unless you know it will be needed. Be careful who you give your number to. Many places of business will ask for it, but few actually need it. When you renew your driver's license, request that your Social Security number not be shown. Shred any bills, mail or documents that contain your number before throwing them away.

Five little steps can make all the difference down the road, so I encourage you to take our 2007 resolutions to heart. To learn more, visit Social Security's Web site at www.socialsecurity.gov, or call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213.

Our office is located at 2401 South Wilcox Drive and you can call us at (423) 247-9820 on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

John Vogt is the Social Security district manager in Kingsport. Send questions to Vogt at Social Security, 2401 S. Wilcox Drive, Kingsport, Tenn., 37660.

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