Money can't buy you happiness, but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.
- Spike Milligan

Sometimes a person either loses or does not keep good work history or wage records.

Then suddenly they find themselves needing this information for Job-Search, Student Loans or Income Tax purposes…

Here are some suggestions:


      You may find that you can fairly accurately recreate your work history from old W-2's, federal 1040 tax forms, or State Income tax files you've stashed away...  You may have to estimate the approximate start and end dates for your jobs, but it’s a start…

      But what if you no longer have a paper copy of your taxes?    Maybe you still have a backup file of your taxes on your computer.   It may be an old Turbo Tax or other Software-specific file, but these can usually be converted and/or reprinted.   Try contacting the software company's Customer Service online, or call them for assistance.


      If the companies you worked for are still doing business, you may be able to obtain your work history details directly from them.   An easy way to find your old employers’ phone numbers and/or addresses is to use the search engine at:


      Check with your State Economic Security or Employment Department.    These agencies often have access to wage records for at least the last 3-4 years.   But they rarely have wage listings from the most recent 3-6 month period (this is because employers have up to 6 months to report your wages to the State).    In some states it is even possible to obtain your wage and employment information that is older that 3 or 4 years.    However, there is usually a fee, and it will probably take days, weeks or months to obtain your wage data.    If you do need this service, contact your State Economic Security or Employment Department, or your State Revenue or Tax Department.


      Their wage report is titled a "Summary Earnings Record".    If you are not interested in customizing this report, it is free.    It lists ONLY your REPORTED annual income, year-by-year.   So, if you worked "under-the-table", or if your employer misreported or failed to report your wages, this will be of little help.   If you have any special situations or issues regarding the information on this SSI Summary Earnings Record, it MAY be available, BUT it will cost you – both in waiting-time and in money.... 

      Occasionally, you may find your reported wages to be incorrect.    If they are off by a substantial amount, then it may affect your Unemployment benefits or even your eligibility.   This can usually be corrected by supplying photocopies or duplicates of your paycheck stubs or W-2 forms to your Unemployment Department or Agency.

       Lastly, be sure to check your SSI reported wages at least every 3 years.   Compare them for accuracy, that they match the numbers on your W-2's.   Wage errors for years back beyond that point may be impossible to correct!

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by the Wizard of Jobs

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