3 Social Security surprises that may leave money on the table

Almost a quarter of future retirees who expect to receive Social Security either guess or don’t know how much their benefits will be. Newslook

Even if your retirement is years away, it’s a good idea to periodically check in on your Social Security benefits.

Why? To make sure your earnings record is accurate. That can be a nasty surprise. Left uncorrected, an error could cost you thousands of dollars in retirement.

(Checking in is getting an extra layer of security. Earlier this month, the Social Security Administration announced it will enable two-factor authentication starting June 10, requiring account holders to log in and provide an additional point of identification via cellphone or email.

“Using two ways to identify you when you log on will help better protect your account from unauthorized use and potential identity fraud,” the agency said in its announcement.)

Here are three more Social Security surprises to be aware of:

1) There’s still reason to love your ex

If you’re divorced, you may be able to collect an amount equivalent to half of what your ex is eligible to receive, based on his or her work record. Experts say retirees unaware of this option may be leaving money on the table.

“Divorced benefits and qualifications aren’t discussed anywhere on the statement you get in the mail,” Rob Kron, head of investment and retirement education for asset management firm BlackRock, told CNBC. “People just don’t know they are eligible for this money and often times it goes unclaimed.”

You won’t need to make contact with your ex to make this work. But you will need to meet a few criteria — among the qualifications, the marriage must have lasted at least 10 years, and you must be currently unmarried and at least age 62.

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