If you’re like me, you check the performance of your stocks, bonds, and 401(k) hoping they will be enough for retirement. But there are other things that should be checked as well.
For example, here in the United States, the Social Security Administration sends a yearly statement of benefits. This didn’t used to be done and you needed to ask for the statement. The statement is important because it shows the current calculation of your Social Security dollars at various retirement ages. Not having the right number of quarters worked shown means not getting enough of the benefits you deserve.
In other countries, governments provide pensions and other benefits that should be checked. The perils of not checking are significant:
After reading a book this year about serious flaws in Japan’s pension system, retired deliveryman Yoshikazu Hirano thought he’d check his own records just to be safe. He’s glad he did: The 74-year-old discovered the government had shortchanged him by 460,000 yen ($3,770) in benefits he accrued while driving a truck for three years in the 1950s and 60s.
Hirano wasn’t alone. Shortly afterward, the government confessed to losing track of pension records linked to an astounding 64 million claims — igniting a scandal that has punished the ruling party at the polls and eroded confidence in the ability of the world’s second largest economy to support its growing legions of elderly.
Put checking your financial records on your annual to-do list. Much better to catch problems now than after you retire.