How to Get Your Employment History from Social Security

What Is the Social Security Administration?

In order to answer the question of how to get your reported employment history we should first explain what the social security administration (SSA) is. Essentially it is an independent government agency which administers social security services. It is also an insurance program that consists of retirement, disability and survivor benefits. In order to qualify for these benefits most workers pay into the system through social security taxes.

The head offices of the social security agency are located in Woodlawn, Maryland and are referred to as the Central Office. There are tens of thousands of workers employed by the social security agency and it is the largest government program in the United States.

It is estimated that by the end of the 2022 fiscal year the agency will have paid out $1.2 trillion in benefits to 66 million citizens and legal residents of the United States. An additional $61 billion is expected in SSI benefits and $7.5 million to low-income individuals.

This government agency is a vital part of the country's economy and without it millions of already struggling Americans would have nothing. It is a program that many have paid into for decades in preparation for retirement and as an insurance policy against sudden disability.

History of the Social Security Agency

On August 14th 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law as part of his New Deal initiative. This led to the creation of the Social Security Board (SSB), a presidentially appointed group of three executives tasked with overseeing the social security program.

With zero budget, staff or even furniture the SSB finally obtained funding from the Federal Emergency Relief Administration. It was on October 14th 1936 that the first social security office opened its doors in Austin, Texas.

In January of 1937 social security taxes were first collected. Just a few years later the first social security check was issued to Ida Mary Fuller of Battleboro, Vermont. Ida’s check was dated January 31st 1940 and she received $22.54.

The SSB in 1939 merged with the U.S. Public Health Service, the Civilian Conservation Corp and other government agencies to become the Federal Security Agency. In 1846 under President Harry S. Truman the SSB was named the Social Security Administration SSA.

In 1953 the Federal Security Agency was dismantled and the SSA was placed under the banner of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Finally in 1994 President Bill Clinton made the Social Security Administration an independent body once again.

Why Do We Need to Know Our Employment History?

Most of us likely know our entire work history although increasingly it is more common for people to have shorter stints in multiple jobs throughout their careers. Decades ago someone may start a job in their teens and remain at that job until retirement.

The younger generations tend to have a more varied employment history including early jobs, employment to help fund college and then once qualified they may also have worked in their field in multiple locations.

The actual jobs we do throughout our lives are only pertinent when it comes to applying for a new job and we usually know what we have done that may serve as experience for a new position. Obtaining a social security employment history is more about how much we have earned in taxable income.

The reason we may need a social security employment history check is generally so we can understand our eligibility for benefits for example state pensions. There is also the possibility that an employer may have failed to report some income for you which may affect your eligibility for benefits. This is why checking that all the social security records match your own.

What Is a Social Security Number?

Our reported social security income is attributed to us by the use of our personal unique social security number. This is given to us in the form of a small rectangular piece of banknote paper which bears our legal name and a very important nine digit number. It is a number that is a vital piece of identifying documentation that is used to help track our financial earnings. Due to tax laws, most people's parents will apply for their child’s Social Security number before they even leave the hospital after birth.

It used to be the case that people might not apply for their Social Security card until they were ready to start work. These days however things have changed. In order to be able to claim your children as dependents on your taxes they have to have been issued a valid Social Security number. This is why most hospitals will actually assist new parents in making the application on their child’s behalf.

So your Social Security card will be the first identifying document that most people have. The main reason for the Social Security card and subsequent unique nine digit number is to identify its owner for taxation purposes. You must possess a Social Security card to find legal employment in the United States.

The card allows the U.S. government to withhold Social Security insurance taxes from your paychecks which go into a universal fund. It is from this fund that state pensions are drawn and that the money for disability payments are also found.

How to Get Your Employment History from Social Security?

If we are completely honest we may have had employment when we were kids like mowing lawns, delivering papers or even selling lemonade from a stand outside our houses. This income likely did not get claimed for tax purposes so will not appear on your social security records. You will only find earnings and employment that was reported to the social security administration on your work history.

Technically speaking an employment history from social security is better described as an earnings history but what it can tell us is how much we made each year of our taxable working life and from what sources.

In order to access your social security employment history you simply have to visit or set up your My Social Security Account online. This account will give you access to all of past years of reported income so you can check if they match your understanding of what you made. Sometimes mistakes are made and you might need to have the records altered.

Final Thoughts

Obtaining a social security employment history or more accurately earnings history is very easy. You simply need to visit or create your own My Social Security Account. This will give you access to all manner of tools and information relating to your reported income and your potential future benefits data.

Reference SSA Locator

If you use any of the forms, definitions, or data shown on SSA Locator, please make sure to link or reference us using the tool below. Thanks!

  • "How to Get Your Employment History from Social Security". SSA Locator. Accessed on May 26, 2024.

  • "How to Get Your Employment History from Social Security". SSA Locator, Accessed 26 May, 2024

  • How to Get Your Employment History from Social Security. SSA Locator. Retrieved from