Thursday, September 29, 2022

How Is Social Security Amount Determined

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Contrast With Private Pensions

How Social Security benefits are calculated on a $40,000 salary

Although Social Security is sometimes compared to private pensions, the two systems are different in a number of respects. It has been argued that Social Security is an insurance plan as opposed to a retirement plan. Unlike a pension, for example, Social Security pays disability benefits. A private pension fund accumulates the money paid into it, eventually using those reserves to pay pensions to the workers who contributed to the fund and a private system is not universal. Social Security cannot “prefund” by investing in marketable assets such as equities, because federal law prohibits it from investing in assets other than those backed by the U.S. government. As a result, its investments to date have been limited to special non-negotiable securities issued by the U.S. Treasury, although some argue that debt issued by the Federal National Mortgage Association and other quasi-governmental organizations could meet legal standards. Social Security cannot by law invest in private equities, although some other countries and some states permit their pension funds to invest in private equities. As a universal system, Social Security generally operates as a pipeline, through which current tax receipts from workers are used to pay current benefits to retirees, survivors, and the disabled. When there is an excess of taxes withheld over benefits paid, by law this excess is invested in Treasury securities as described above.

Financial Eligibility For Ssi

Your income requirements for SSI depend on the state in which you live. You must have a very low monthly income, and approximately half of your current income is taken into account. The amount is set by your particular state, and it is usually between $700 and $1400 per month, and some states allow individuals with higher incomes to still qualify for SSI. You must own less than $2,000 in property for individuals, or $3,000 for a couple.

In addition to these financial requirements, you must be disabled, blind or over the age of 65. You must also be a citizen of the United States or meet very specific requirements based on military service, U.S. permanent residency, or refugee or political asylum status.

If you are disabled and are approved for SSI, you are also normally able to participate in the Medicaid program in your state, as well the food stamp program. There are specific state stipulations that must be met for these programs.

How Does Social Security Get Calculated

Most people who receive social security benefits get their check every month and dont really think about it much after. We are all more or less versed in the knowledge that our social security amount is somehow tied to what we paid in over the years.

Find: 5 Things Most Americans Dont Know About Social Security

But how exactly is it calculated?

Social security benefits are based on your lifetime earnings, but not all of them. The IRS states that your actual earnings are adjusted or indexed to account for changes in average wages since the year the earnings were received. Additionally, Social Security also takes your 35 highest-earning years to calculate your average indexed monthly earnings.

A formula is then applied to this 35-year high-earning period to arrive at your basic benefit or primary insurance amount giving you how the amount you will receive in each check at your full retirement age.

To get a better idea of how much you will receive, you can also check out the IRS Social Security Calculator here.

Important to note: You can begin to receive your Social Security benefits early at age 62 but the benefit will be reduced. This means if you use the calculator to estimate an amount you could receive today, if you take your benefit at 62 the actual amount will be lower. Further, your basic benefit will be reduced by a certain percentage if you decide to retire before reaching the full retirement age of 65.

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Can Your Pia Change After You Reach Age 62

There are two things that affect your PIA after you reach age 62:

  • Higher earnings: Earnings in years between age 62 and 70 that are higher than one of the 35 highest earnings years previously used in the formula will change your AIME which is used in the PIA formula.
  • Inflation: Your PIA will be adjusted by the same cost-of-living adjustments applied to people who are already receiving Social Security benefits. You can see historical cost-of-living adjustment rates on the Social Security Administration’s website.
  • You may get the wrong answer when running your own calculations on when to begin Social Security if you simply take the numbers off your statement and do not properly apply inflation adjustments.

    Back Payments And Retroactive Payments Are Often Included Once You Are Approved

    How are Social Security Benefits Calculated Archives ...

    When you are approved for SSDI or SSI, you are often approved with back payments or retroactive payments included. Back payments are any disability benefits that are past due, or the benefits that you would have been paid if your initial application was approved right away.Retroactive payments are for the months that you were disabled and could not work. You are eligible for retroactive payments only with SSDI and not SSI.

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    Your Monthly Ssd Benefit Amount Is Equal To Your Full Social Security Retirement Benefit

    Another common question we hear from our clients at Scott London Disability Law Office and London Eligibility is, what happens to a persons SSD benefit payment when they reach their retirement age and file for Social Security Retirement benefits?

    If you continue to receive monthly SSD benefits until you reach your full retirement age , then your payments will simply switch from SSD to Social Security Retirement without any change. The government uses the same formula to set your SSD payment amount as they use to set your full retirement benefit amount.

    If someone getting SSDI benefits files for Social Security Retirement benefits early, say at age 62, then they will see an immediate 30% drop from their SSD payment. Why? Because SSD benefits are equal only to your retirement benefits at your full retirement age, or FRA. Depending on your birth year, your full retirement age is somewhere between age 65 and age 67. Filing for retirement before your FRA cuts your Social Security Retirement benefits permanently.

    Get Expert, Professional Help with SSD/SSDI and SSI at London Eligibility Today

    Only after many years specializing in SSD-SSDI and SSI benefits law did Scott London and his team of skilled SSD advocates obtain the expertise every SSD applicant can use to win the highest SSD benefits possible. London Eligibility works full-time every day to get the maximum SSD and SSI benefits every client deserves.

    How Work Affects Your Benefits

    If you work and are fully retirement age or older, you may keep all your benefits, no matter how much you earn.

    If you’re younger than full retirement age, there is a limit to how much you can earn and still receive full Social Security benefits.

    For example, if youre younger than full retirement age during all of 2022, the Social Security Administration must deduct $1 from your benefits for each $2 you earn above $19,560.

    If you reach full retirement age during 2022, the SSA must deduct $1 from your benefits for each $3 you earn above $51,960 until the month you reach full retirement age.

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    Ask Larry: How Will Social Security Calculate My Wife’s Spousal Benefit Rate

    Ask Larry

    Economic Security Planning, Inc.

    Today’s Social Security column addresses questions about how Social Security spousal benefits are calculated, whether it’s necessary to file in January to get a given year’s COLA and what effects of benefits rates not paying taxes can have. Larry Kotlikoff is a Professor of Economics at Boston University and the founder and president of Economic Security Planning, Inc.

    Have Social Security questions of your own youd like answered? Ask Larry about Social Security here.

    How Will Social Security Calculate My Wife’s Spousal Benefit Rate?

    Hi Larry, My wife of 25 years was born in early 1955. She began drawing benefits at her FRA, $1,150 per month. I was born in late 1955. My estimated benefit at full retirement is $2,920. I do not intend to take my benefits until I am 70. My estimated benefits at 70 are $3,820.

    I understand my wifes spousal benefits would be half of $2,920 or $1,460. How does this work. When I draw at 70, will my wife be entitled to only $1,460 or will she also be able to benefit from the years of COLAs ? Thanks, Jack

    Hi Jack, When you start drawing your benefits, your wife will be eligible for a benefit rate equal to 50% of your primary insurance amount . A person’s PIA is equal to their Social Security retirement benefit rate if they start drawing their benefits at full retirement age .

    Is There Any Reason Not To File In January Of A Given Year?

    Does Failing To File Taxes Affect My Benefit Amount?

    How To Get A Copy Of Your Social Security Statement

    How Social Security benefits are calculated on a $75,000 salary

    The SSA mails out Social Security Statements to follks age 25 and over before their birthdays during their 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, and 60 years. For those age 60 until retirement, the SSA will send out statements every year. You can also go online to get a copy of your statement or view it online. Go to and open an account with Social Security to view your statement.

    Recommended Reading: How To Check How Much Social Security I Will Get

    Can You Receive Retroactive Payments

    Once the SSA approves your SSDI application and calculates your monthly benefit, you may be entitled to a back pay award. How many months of payments you will receive will depend on the date you applied for benefits and your disability onset date.

    If you are applying for SSDI benefits, you need the assistance of a skilled Social Security disability lawyer to get your application approved and receive the benefits you deserve. To schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team, fill out the online form on this page or call our Roswell office today.

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    Understanding The Social Security Benefits Formula Is Important

    Understanding the Social Security benefit formula is important, because you can shape your behavior to increase your benefits once you know the formula.

    Throughout your career, you can work to increase your income so you have a higher average wage. If you have not worked for a full 35 years, you may also decide to work longer so you don’t have any years of $0 wages factored in or so you have fewer $0s figured in your average. Or, if you are earning a much higher wage at the end of your career, you could stay in the workforce longer so some years of higher wages replace years of lower earnings. Finally, you could opt not to claim benefits until at least full retirement age or later so you get at least your primary insurance amount — or more.

    Since Social Security is such an important source of income in retirement, it’s worth learning how the Social Security benefits formula works and taking steps to maximize the benefits that will help support you as a senior.

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    Maximum Social Security Benefits You Can Get

    The maximum monthly Social Security benefit available to someone retiring in 2021 is $3,895, which assumes that:

    • They worked 35 years or more
    • In their 35 top-earning years, their income met or exceeded the SSA’s maximum taxable amount, so that they paid the largest Social Security tax amount possible for each of those years
    • They are retiring at age 70, which entitles them to the maximum delayed retirement credit

    For comparison, the table below lists the monthly benefits for workers who plan to retire in 2021 whose earnings met or exceeded the SSA maximum-taxable limit every year of their working lives, from age 22. This situation is far from typical, but it shows the impact of retirement age on Social Security benefits, isolated from other factors.

    Maximum Social Security Benefit for Workers Retiring in 2021

    Tax On Wages And Self

    Determine The Validity Of Your Social Security Number ...

    Benefits are funded by taxes imposed on wages of employees and self-employed persons. As explained below, in the case of employment, the employer and employee are each responsible for one half of the Social Security tax, with the employee’s half being withheld from the employee’s pay check. In the case of self-employed persons , the self-employed person is responsible for the entire amount of Social Security tax.

    The portion of taxes collected from the employee for Social Security are referred to as “trust fund taxes” and the employer is required to remit them to the government. These taxes take priority over everything, and represent the only debts of a corporation or LLC that can impose personal liability upon its officers or managers. A sole proprietor and officers of a corporation and managers of an LLC can be held personally liable for non-payment of the income tax and social security taxes whether or not actually collected from the employee.

    A separate payroll tax of 1.45% of an employee’s income is paid directly by the employer, and an additional 1.45% deducted from the employee’s paycheck, yielding a total tax rate of 2.90%. There is no maximum limit on this portion of the tax. This portion of the tax is used to fund the Medicare program, which is primarily responsible for providing health benefits to retirees.

    The Social Security tax rates from 1937â2010 can be accessed on the Social Security Administration‘s website.

    Wages not subject to tax

    Also Check: How Much Have I Paid In Social Security

    How To Check Your Earnings Record

    How might check your earnings record? In the past, Social Security mailed you a statement that contained your earnings record and benefit estimate. Today, however, you need to create a my Social Security account to review your earnings record. You can do that at .

    When checking whether your earnings record is correct or not, keep the following in mind. One, theres no statute of limitations on correcting errors related to wages, according to Kurt Czarnowski, a principal at Czarnowski Consulting.

    A person needs to provide proof of what the correct amount of earnings was, Czarnowski said at a recent National Association of Personal Financial Advisors conference. But even if it’s something back in 1976, if happen to have W-2, can make that correction.

    Thats not true, however, when it comes to correcting self-employment income errors on your Social Security statement. You have only three years, three months and 15 days to correct those errors, Czarnowski explained.

    Besides Social Security Approximately How Much Money Should You Save In Advance For Retirement

    Evaluating how much money you will need to retire has multiple variables depending on each household lifestyle, Coffman said. What is the cost-of-living expense in each individual home? The biggest expense is health care cost and usually traveling within the first five years of retirement.

    A generally accepted rule of thumb for retirement planning is that you must have at least 80% of the annual salary earned at work, said Justin Nabity, CFP and founder and CEO at Physicians Thrive. This is sometimes referred to as replacement income. Therefore, if you earn $100,000 a year at work, you need at least $80,000 a year to retire. This is the beginning. Multiply this number by your average life expectancy after retirement to arrive at the minimum total amount you need. Anything above that limit and you are usually in good terrain financially.

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    How Are Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits Calculated

    SSDI is a benefit for disabled workers who have sufficiently paid into the Social Security system over the course of their employment. You must have earned a certain number of work credits to qualify for benefits if you become disabled before retirement age. The exact number of credits you need depends on your age. The older you are, the more credits you need.

    Once the SSA confirms that you have enough credits to qualify, it will then calculate how much your monthly benefit should be. The formula that the SSA uses is considerably complex. There are two primary variables that affect your SSDI benefit amount:

    There Are Social Security Survivor Benefits For Spouses And Children

    How Social Security benefits are calculated if you make $15 per hour

    If your spouse dies before you, you can take a Social Security survivor benefit. However, that won’t be in addition to your own benefit. You must choose one or the other. If you are at full retirement age, that benefit is worth 100% of what your spouse was receiving at the time of his or her death .

    A widow or widower can start taking a survivor benefit at age 60. However, the payment will be reduced because it’s taken before full retirement age. If you remarry before age 60, you are not eligible for a survivor benefit. If you remarry after age 60, you may be eligible for a survivor benefit based on your former spouse’s earnings.

    Eligible children who are under age 18 or were disabled before age 22 can also receive a Social Security survivor benefit. It would be worth up to 75% of the deceased’s benefit.

    Recommended Reading: How To Find Out How Much Social Security You Will Receive

    How Does The Social Security Administration Calculate Benefits

    Benefits also depend on how much money youâve earned in life. The Social Security Administration takes your highest-earning 35 years of covered wages and averages them, indexing for inflation. They give you a big fat âzeroâ for each year you donât have earnings, so people who worked for fewer than 35 years may see lower benefits.

    The Social Security Administration also makes annual Cost of Living Adjustments, even as you collect benefits. That means the retirement income you collect from Social Security has built-in protection against inflation. For many people, Social Security is the only form of retirement income they have that is directly linked to inflation. Itâs a big perk that doesnât get a lot of attention.

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