Estimating your Social Security Income

Written by: Mike Valles

Being able to estimate your Social Security income at any point before you retire helps you to better understand when you are most ready to retire. This can prevent you from retiring too soon and getting too little Social Security income, or it can enable you to retire sooner than you expected – depending on the results of the estimate.

Social Security Income Calculators Are Available Online

In order to discover an estimate of how much Social Security retirement income you will be able to receive each month, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has an online calculator, called a “Retirement Estimator,” that is easy to use. It also can be used at any time, but there are some qualifications, such as being 62 or older, or currently receiving benefits.

Social Security Income Calculators Are Not Precise

A retirement income calculator assumes several things, which is why the results it gives may not be exact. One simple reason is that your future income from your current or future job cannot be predicted accurately. Other benefits may also affect it, such as those received from the railroad, service in the military, or through other pensions. Also, the Social Security acknowledges that the laws concerning retirement may need to be changed by 2033, because payroll taxes at that time will only cover about 75 percent of every dollar needed.

Several Calculators Are Available

The SSA has several income calculators that you can use, enabling you to get results according to your circumstances. Some of them enable you to enter different numbers, and some of them will only give you rough estimates. One version lets you enter in numbers not covered by Social Security, such as the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) or Government Pension Offset (GPO). The Detailed Calculator will enable you to get the most accurate results, and it has both PC and Mac versions, both of which must be first downloaded to your computer.

Raise Your Social Security Income

One benefit of estimating Social Security income early is that when you earn more in successive years, this helps eliminate the lower income years, says Larry Swedroe at CBSNews.com. This happens because the amount of income received during retirement is based on the 35 highest years in which you earned the most. Understanding the amount you will receive and then seeking to earn more in the few years immediately prior to retirement may cause some to want to wait a year or two longer – especially if you have one or two years of lower income you want to raise.

Determine Your Best Time for Retirement

The legal agency Nolo.com, suggests that it is a good idea to review the Social Security Administration’s website to verify the accuracy of your Social Security Statement. This is available to anyone over 25, and can be found at www.ssa.gov/mystatement/, where you will need to open an account. Nolo points out that an estimated three percent of these SS statements do contain errors on them. Having errors on them affects the amount of retirement income you will receive, so ensuring that they are accurate will help ensure your future income.


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Estimating your Social Security Income

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