Tuesday, May 30, 2017

How long do you have to keep pay stubs?

“You should retain copies of your federal tax returns for 7 years.” Is that true, or a myth? How long should you keep those quarterly and annual statements you get about your investment accounts? And how long should you keep bank statements before throwing them away?

Your age, wealth & health might shape your answer. If you are not yet retired, then you may wish to follow the general “rules of thumb” presented across the rest of this article.

On the other hand, if you are retired and there is any chance that you might need to apply for Medicaid, then you should keep at least five years of all financial records on hand (including credit card statements).
Why? Medicaid has a five-year "lookback" period in many states. To be approved for benefits in those states, you have to prove that you didn’t give away funds during that five-year period. To prove this, you must produce complete records from every bank and brokerage account to which you have access, including those held jointly.1
Another special circumstance: if someone you love ends up under court supervision via guardianship or conservatorship, all financial records must be kept from the date of that guardian's or conservator's appointment until the court gives final approval to the fiduciary's financial account.


How do I get my old pay stubs?

Contact your old supervisor or Human Resources department representative, if applicable, at your previous job. Ask whom you should contact for assistance or what steps you need to take to request copies of old pay stubs or payroll records, as well as the amount of time it will take for completion of the request. If you’re given contact information for payroll or accounting, contact that office and ask for instructions.

 Follow the instructions to begin the process of making your request. Typically, this involves acquiring and filling out a pay stub request form or drafting your request in writing. On the form or in your letter, provide your entire name, current mailing address, previous address if you’ve moved since your previous employment, Social Security number or employee identification number, and dates for the applicable pay periods.

 Sign the form or letter and submit it by fax, postal mail, email or in person. If your former employer charges an administrative or records processing fee for this service, pay the fee by check, money order, credit card or debit card as required.