How to Report and Correct Your Social Security Earnings Record

Ensuring your reported earnings are accurate helps to maximize your Social Security benefits. Learn how to check and correct errors.

The Social Security earnings record is a fundamental element that contributes to the calculation of your Social Security benefits. An accurate earnings record ensures you receive the benefits you’re entitled to upon retirement. Correcting discrepancies within the time limit set forth by Section 515 is crucial.

This article guides you through the importance of maintaining an accurate Social Security earnings record, the process and time limits for correcting any mistakes, and employer responsibilities in reporting accurate earnings information.

Why is it important to report and correct errors in your social security earnings record?

How errors in your earnings record can affect your social security benefits

Errors in your Social Security earnings record, such as incorrect wage information or unreported earnings, can significantly affect your future benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) calculates your retirement, disability, and survivor benefits based on your earnings history. If your earnings record is inaccurate, you may receive less than what you’re entitled to. Correcting these errors ensures your benefits accurately reflect your employment history and earnings.


You cannot correct your earnings after 3 years, 3 months, and 15 days from the end of the taxable year in which your wages were paid. However, you can correct your record after that length of time to:

  • Confirm records with tax returns filed with the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Correct errors due to employee omissions from processed employer reports or missing reports.
  • Correct errors “on the face of the record” that is, errors we can find by examining our records of processed reports.
  • Include wages reported by an employer as paid to a person, but not shown in our records.

The impact of unreported earnings on your social security statement

Ensuring an accurate Social Security earnings record is crucial for determining your benefit amount, as each year’s earnings contribute to a formula that calculates benefits. If reported earnings are too low or unreported, your benefit amount may be substantially reduced.

Correcting any errors is imperative to secure the full benefits earned over your working life and prevent potential discrepancies in your Social Security statement, leading to future payment reductions. Regularly reviewing and correcting your earnings record is essential for an accurate reflection of your earnings history in the estimate provided on your Social Security statement. 

How to check your Social Security earnings

Log into your Social Security account

Review your earnings history under “Taxed Social Security Earnings” to confirm the earnings history looks correct.

If there is a year that looks off it may be due to the Social Security wage base which is the maximum amount paid into Social Security for a given year. For 2023, if you earned over $160,200, then your taxed Social Security earnings history would only show $160,200.

Contribution and Benefit Bases, 1937-2024

Note: Amounts for 1937-74 and for 1979-81 were set by statute; all other amounts were determined under automatic adjustment provisions of the Social Security Act

What is the process to correct your earnings record with the SSA?

A step-by-step guide to submitting a correction request to the SSA

To correct errors on your Social Security earnings record, follow a step-by-step process that begins with gathering your employment documents, such as W-2 forms or federal tax returns.

Next, complete a “Request for Correction of Earnings Record” form available from the SSA (Form SSA-7008). Submit the form along with your documentation to the SSA for review and correction. The SSA may investigate the discrepancy, requiring additional documentation or information.

How to contact the SSA for assistance with earnings record corrections

If you need assistance with correcting your earnings record, you can contact the SSA directly. You may call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to speak with a representative who can guide the correction process. Additionally, visiting a local SSA office allows you to discuss your case in person and obtain the necessary forms and information for correcting your record.

Required documentation for correcting your social security earnings record

Correcting your earnings record requires submitting specific documentation to the SSA. This may include W-2 forms, federal income tax returns, pay stubs, and any records of self-employment income. These documents serve as proof of earnings and are essential for resolving any discrepancies in your earnings record.

What is the time limit for correcting mistakes on your earnings record?

Understanding the statutory time limit for earnings corrections under Section 515

Under Section 515, there is a statutory time limit for correcting mistakes on your Social Security earnings record. Generally, corrections must be requested within three years, three months, and 15 days after the year in which the wages were paid. However, there are exceptions to this rule, which may extend the period allowing for corrections.

Exceptions to the time limit for correcting earnings record errors

Exceptions to this time limit include errors discovered due to fraud, clerical errors, or an employer not reporting earnings correctly. In such cases, the SSA may allow corrections to be made beyond the standard time limit, ensuring fairness and accuracy in your earnings record.

What happens if you miss the deadline for correction requests?

If you miss the deadline for filing a correction request, correcting errors in your earnings record becomes significantly more challenging, but not impossible. You may need to provide substantial evidence to support your claim for corrections beyond the time limit. The SSA reviews these requests on a case-by-case basis, considering the availability of evidence and the circumstances leading to the late submission.

How can employers correct reported earnings information to the SSA?

Responsibilities of employers in reporting accurate earnings information

Employers play a crucial role in the accuracy of Social Security earnings records. They are responsible for reporting employees’ wages accurately and promptly using the W-2 form. When errors occur, it’s the employer’s responsibility to correct the information by submitting amended W-2 forms to both the IRS and the SSA. This ensures that the employee’s earnings record reflects the correct amount of earnings and taxes paid.

The process for employers to amend previously reported earnings data

To amend previously reported earnings information, employers must submit a corrected W-2 form, known as a W-2c, to the SSA. This form outlines the original reported earnings and the corrected amounts. Submitting a W-2c is an acknowledgment of the initial error and serves as the official request to correct the employee’s Social Security earnings record.

Penalties and consequences for employers providing incorrect earnings information

Employers providing incorrect earnings information may face penalties and consequences, including fines and legal ramifications. It’s in the best interest of both the employer and the employee to ensure that earnings information is reported accurately and corrections are made promptly to avoid these penalties.

How do you avoid common mistakes in reporting earnings to the SSA?

To avoid common mistakes in reporting earnings to the SSA, ensure you double-check all information on your W-2 forms or self-employment tax returns before submission. Regularly review your Social Security earnings record for accuracy, and promptly report any errors or discrepancies to the SSA with the appropriate documentation.

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Securities and advisory services offered through Osaic Wealth, Inc., member FINRASIPCOsaic Wealth is separately owned and other entities and/or marketing names, products or services referenced here are independent of Osaic Wealth. Representatives may not be registered to provide securities and advisory services in all states. Branch address: 10701 Parkridge Blvd, Ste 130, Reston, VA 20191. Branch phone: 571-543-2783.

About the Author

Brennan Rhule, co-founder of PlanWell Financial Planning, is focused on empowering federal employees to retire with confidence. PlanWell is committed to providing financial education to Feds on a national level, delivered through weekly articles, webinars, and personalized guidance. Sign up to attend our Federal Retirement Webinars – we hope to see you there!