A call to the Social Security Office confirmed the following:
The Social Security office, when, e.g., preparing Your Personal
Earnings and Benefits Statement, which lists your annual income
for all the years which are counted toward your benefits, receives
only "numbers" from the IRS, based on the reported income on your
tax returns. They receive no indication of the source of this
income, and have no records of W2s and related documents.
It was further asserted that, if you wished to contest or amend
the figures passed on by Social Security to you in your Statement,
"the burden of proof is entirely on you", and it would be necessary
to contact the IRS, who should have copies of your returns, W2s and
1099s, which could be "dug up". Presumably this would satisfy you.
A search for "employment history" on the IRS site turns up no
direct means of requesting such records. Neither does a search
for "employment records", as seen in the searches linked below.
There is a page with instructions for processing requests for
information and amendments to information for individuals and
organizations requesting same, outlining the necessary
requirements for obtaining these under the guidelines of the
Privacy Act of 1974:
I was able to ferret out a hidden menu code to talk to a live
person while using the toll-free number for individual tax
issues, which is 1-800-829-1040 followed by a 1 and a 5.
The representative I spoke to there told me that she could
forward me to an internal extension which could further assist
me. This took me to the Accounts section. No direct number to
this extension available.
I was drawn to this question because I received an Earnings and
Benefits Statement from Social Security which indicated a figure
for my income in 1975 which didn't jive with my memory. When I
mentioned this to the Accounts representative, she expressed
being very doubtful that records from 30 years ago would still
be available, and estimated that 10 years, at best, are still
She also indicated that you might need to make requests using
forms 4509 (unnamed) and 4506 - 'Request a copy of a Tax Return',
available from this page:
But she suggested calling the 1-800 number above so that they
could help you directly.
Another option suggested by the first representative I spoke with
is to locate the local IRS office for your area from this page:
You can then call them and leave your number and they will get
back to you within 48 hours and set a face-to-face appointment
where you can meet with a real person who can assist you.
If you need records going back more than 10 years, the outlook
doesn't seem promising. Unfortunately, the IRS records are the
only option you have to explore, short of contacting every former
employer (if you can remember them all) and obtaining a history
Obviously, and in retrospect, the best practice would be to keep
detailed records of your own, particularly W2s, 1099s and the like.
Please do not rate this answer until you are satisfied that
the answer cannot be improved upon by way of a dialog
established through the "Request for Clarification" process.
A user's guide on this topic is on skermit-ga's site, here:
Additional information may be found from an exploration of
the links resulting from the Google searches outlined below.
Searches done, via Google:
"employment history" site:www.irs.gov
"employment records" site:www.irs.gov
Request for Answer Clarification by
03 Mar 2006 13:08 PST
Hi. Thanks for your research, but I actually meant to cancel the
request because I found the following information myself:
You can get a complete employment history, which ?Includes periods of
employment or self-employment and the names and addresses of
employers,? by filling out form SSA-7050 from the Social Security
Administration. It is available on their website at
Here is relevant info about the form:
"How can I obtain a history of all my employers? Question I have
applied for a job that requires me to provide a complete history of
all employers that I have worked for. How can I obtain this report?
Answer --- To obtain a detailed statement of your employment history,
you need to complete Form SSA-7050-F4, Request For Social Security
Earnings Information. Under most circumstances there is a charge
involved for detailed earnings information. Considerable clerical
handling is required in preparing this information. Unlike the
earnings information used to compute Social Security benefits, which
is electronically available, detailed earnings information must be
extracted from microfilmed records through a tedious, labor-intensive
operation requiring visual examination of each record before a
statement can be produced and released. We do not charge for providing
more detailed earnings information when it is needed for correcting a
Social Security record or for establishing entitlement to Social
Security benefits. You may obtain Form SSA-7050-F4, which also
includes the fee schedule, from our Web site at:
http://www.ssa.gov/online/ssa-7050.pdf. To read and print this form
on a personal computer, you will need a copy of the Adobe Acrobat
Reader software. This software is available free of charge from
Adobe's Internet server at:
http://www.adobe.com/prodindex/acrobat/readstep.html. The Social
Security Administration does not charge a fee for providing
individuals with a statement showing yearly totals of earnings, the
amount of Social Security taxes paid, an estimate of future benefits,
and the number of credits you have under the Social Security program.
Normally, this is all the information that is needed to determine
Social Security benefits. You may obtain a Social Security Statement
Clarification of Answer by
03 Mar 2006 14:32 PST
While I sincerely hope that the information you located is correct,
Before you cancel the question and abnegate my efforts on your
behalf, please consider the following...
The text you cited is from a post on a FindLaw forum dated February
7th, 2003. It purports to cite a page from the Social Security website:
"If you also want a detailed history of your employers note the
following also from the SS website"
However, this quotation can no longer be found on the SS website,
and, while the page with the form remains available and intact,
they are no longer advertising its use. A search on the SS site
for the name of the form turns up only that page, with no pages
pointing to it, as well as unrelated pages:
Request Social Security Earnings Information
When you combine this fact with the results of my phone call
with a live representative at the SS number 1-800-772-1213
(who are not currently answering due to call volume, or I'd
address this with them directly), it seems possible that the
lady I spoke with is speaking from a more current perspective
than the post on Findlaw, and that they are no longer maintaining
records of the sort you need, or providing them to the public.
I will continue to try the 1-800 number, and suggest you do the
same, in order to clear this up prior to what may be a futile
effort in mailing them the form.