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Tracking Social Security contributions

Starting Saturday (Oct. 2), adult Americans will get mail from the Social Security Administration (SSA). It will come in a standard letter-size envelope, green printing on it, and a window for the name and address.

Don't heave it. It's not junk mail. The envelope will contain a statement of what you can expect in the way of a Social Security pension. It will be calculated for you individually, based on your earnings record, for retirement at age 62, 65-67 (depending on your birth date), and 70. The statement will be updated every year.

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The pension amount is an estimate. It doesn't take account of inflation or changes in your pay before you reach retirement.

Nonetheless, the number should be "very helpful in terms of financial planning," says SSA Chief of Staff Brain Coyne. You could add to Social Security any expected income from a private pension and from savings to see if you have sufficient income after you stop working in a paid job.

The four-page statements are being sent to 125 million workers 25 or older at the rate of 500,000 per working day. It is said to be the largest "customized" mailing ever by the government.

Your statement should arrive about three months before your birthday. It will also contain a statement of past earnings that you should check for validity.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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