SOCIAL SECURITY ONLINE CALCULATOR
The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) recently made it faster and easier to determine your anticipated retirement benefit. Future retirees now have access to the SSA’s new online Retirement Estimator. This allows you to better plan for your retirement by providing up to date information, and an opportunity to see how life changes will affect your future benefit.
The Retirement Estimator can be found at: www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator
According to SSA Commissioner Michael J. Astrue, “The Retirement Estimator greatly improves the information available when trying to decide the right time to retire. It will provide highly accurate benefit estimates for those nearing retirement. For younger workers, it will provide valuable information to help them plan and save for their retirement.”
Currently, the SSA mails you an annual benefit statement that provides an estimate of your future benefit. This annual statement has limitations, however, because it assumes your future earnings will not change before you retire. Although you will continue to receive your annual statement in the mail, which you should review carefully, the Retirement Estimator supplements and improves upon that information.
When you provide the Retirement Estimator with information such as your name, date of birth, and Social Security number, the program accesses your prior earnings data. This is a vast improvement over the prior calculator, for which you had to manually enter this data. The Retirement Estimator then asks you to estimate your future earnings and retirement date, and then it calculates your estimated retirement benefits. You are also able to run different future earnings and retirement date scenarios to see how your choices affect the amount of your benefit.
You are able to use the Retirement Estimator as long as:
• You are not currently receiving benefits on your own Social Security record;
• You are not a Medicare beneficiary;
• You have enough Social Security credits to qualify for benefits; and
• You are not eligible for a pension based on work not covered by Social Security.
Estimator does not take annual wage inflation into account, and it will not let married couples calculate all of the benefit options available to them, such as spouses who start to collect benefits on their own record, then reapply later for spousal benefits. On the whole, however, the Retirement Estimator is a significant improvement over the prior calculator.