Counting (On) Your Social Security Benefit

Social security fundYour social security check is based on the last ten quarters of earnings as well as a projection of any future income.

Many newly-minted Baby Boomer retirees may wonder how often they should be receiving a Social Security benefits statement in the mail. They also ask what information it details, and if it’s the best way to estimate how much they’ll get from Social Security.  You’ll receive a statement once every five years from age 25 to 60. Then you get one annually, up to the point when you start receiving benefits.

The statements are sent via U.S. Mail about three months before your birthday. However, you can also generate a benefit estimate anytime you want with a My Social Security account. That website is www.ssa.gov/myaccount.

Your estimate is calculated based on your past earnings and a projection of your future income. This estimate assumes your income will remain at the same level as the previous year until you retire. It’s possible you could receive more than the estimate, if you wind up earning more in the future. You could also get less if your income decreases.

Your Social Security benefit estimate also assumes you’ll keep working until you take benefits at age 62, at full retirement age or at age 70. As a result, the statement may not be that instructional if you plan to retire at a different time.

Another tool you can use is the online calculator. There’s also an even more precise (and more complicated) “detailed calculator.” Go to www.ssa.gov/planners to enter your future earnings estimates.

Reference: Kiplinger (February 2017) “How to Estimate Your Social Security Benefit”


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