Understanding Your Pay, Benefits, and Paycheck

Understanding your paycheck can take some time. Use this free lesson to better understand your pay and work benefits.

Understanding your paycheck

There are two parts to a paycheck: the check stub—sometimes called an earnings statement—and the paper check.

Below is an example of the check stub portion of a paycheck.

sample check stub
  • Section 1 (employer information)
    This section contains your employer's name and address.


  • Section 2 (employee information)
    This section contains information about you. It includes:
  • Your name
  • Your current address on file


  • Section 3 (employee's job information)
    This section contains information about your current job. It includes:
  • Your employee ID number
  • Your job title
  • Your Social Security Number
  • The department whose budget is paying your wages
  • The pay period for which you are receiving payment
  • The pay date


  • Section 4 (employee tax data)
    This section details your current tax filing status for both federal taxes and state taxes. It includes:
  • The marital status you claimed on your W-4
  • The number of allowances you have claimed


  • Section 5 (employee hours and earnings)
    This is a description of what you are being paid for, your pay rate for the current pay period, and the amount you are receiving in gross pay. If you are being paid hourly, the amount of hours for which you are receiving pay is also listed in this section.

    There are two columns in this section: one for the current pay period, and one for the year to date.


  • Section 6 (employee deductions)
    This section describes each deduction that is withheld from your gross pay. There are two columns in this section: one for the current pay period, and one for the year to date.

These deductions will include:

  • Federal income tax
  • State income tax
  • Social Security tax
  • Medicare tax
  • Additional taxes (some states charge other taxes such as state disability and/or other unemployment benefits)

Other possible deductions include:

  • Health/dental/vision
  • Retirement or pension plan
  • Life insurance
  • Disability insurance
  • Child support (if you are delinquent on your child-support payments, some states will deduct them directly from your paycheck)


  • Section 7 (employee net pay)
    This section includes your net pay for the pay period.