You can obtain your employment history by researching tax records, obtaining your credit report or even performing a background check on yourself. You can also complete IRS Form 4506 to request prior years W2s, but keep in mind that the IRS may charge you $30 for each form depending on your reason for the request. Obtaining information from the Social Security Administration is less costly, and you get the information in one detailed report.
Use Form SS-7050-F4, “Request for Social Security Earnings Information,” to obtain the names and addresses of your past employers and annual earnings you received with these employers. You can also use the form to obtain someone else’s employment history as long as you attach written authorization to receive the information. You can use the form to obtain employment information for a deceased person if you are the deceased individual's legal representative, spouse, child or parent.
Note that the SSA may take up to four months to process your request, so you may need to find other ways to obtain your employment history if your request is urgent.
Make certain that you request information only for you or that you have authorization to make the request. Falsely representing yourself to obtain employment history from SSA is a crime. If you use “false representation to knowingly and willfully obtain Social Security records,” the administration could fine you $5,000 or you could serve a year in jail.
Types of Reports
You can obtain a certified or non-certified detailed report of your employment history with the names and addresses of your past employers using Form SS-7050-F4. You can also get a certified report of your annual earnings, without your employers’ demographics, using Form SS-7050-F4. Call the social security office or complete Form SSA-7004 if you need only a non-certified statement of your annual earnings. The SSA provides your annual earnings statement free.
Time Frame and Fees
You can receive information about your entire employment history except for the current calendar year (the current calendar year is not included in the report). For providing you this information, SSA charges a fee that depends on the number of years of history that you request. For example, if you require one year, the fee is $15; 25 years will cost you $60, and you will pay $80 for 40 years of history. For more than 40 years of history, SSA adds $1 for each year to the $80 amount. In addition to the fees assessed for preparing the employment history report, the SSA assesses a $15 charge for certified reports; there are no additional fees for non-certified reports.
To obtain your employment history, you must provide the SSA with your social security number, name, address and the number of years for which you want to receive employment history. The SSA requires that you hand-write your signature on the form; if you sign with an “X,” your form must be witnessed by two other people. If you are obtaining employment history of a deceased individual, you must submit a death certificate along with proof of your relationship to the deceased individual; if you are a legal representative, you must provide proof of appointment as representative to the estate.