Friday, May 20, 2022

# How Is Social Security Determined

## Tax On Wages And Self

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

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.

## Now You Know How The Social Security Benefit Formula Works

Now you know exactly how the Social Security benefit formula works. To sum it all up:

So, while the Social Security benefits formula may seem simple since you’re just adding up different percentages of your average earnings over 35 years depending how much you earn, there’s obviously a lot more to applying the formula than first meets the eye.

## Estimated Net Benefits Under Differing Circumstances

In 2004, Urban Institute economists C. Eugene Steuerle and Adam Carasso created a Web-based Social Security benefits calculator. Using this calculator it is possible to estimate net Social Security benefits for different types of recipients. In the book Democrats and Republicans âRhetoric and Reality Joseph Fried used the calculator to create graphical depictions of the estimated net benefits of men and women who were at different wage levels, single and married , and retiring in different years. These graphs vividly show that generalizations about Social Security benefits may be of little predictive value for any given worker, due to the wide disparity of net benefits for people at different income levels and in different demographic groups. For example, the graph below shows the impact of wage level and retirement date on a male worker. As income goes up, net benefits get smaller âeven negative.

However, the impact is much greater for the future retiree than for the current retiree . The male earning \$95,000 per year and retiring in 2045 is estimated to lose over \$200,000 by participating in the Social Security system.

The next image shows estimated net benefits for married men and women at different wage levels. In this particular scenario it is assumed that the spouse has little or no earnings and, thus, will be entitled to collect a spousal retirement benefit. According to Fried:

Also Check: How Old To Get Social Security

## How To Get A Social Security Card

• Gather your documents. Learn what documents you’ll need to get a card. Select your situation:
• Adult or child
• Original, replacement, or corrected card
• U.S. born citizen, foreign born U.S. citizen, or noncitizen
• Apply online for a replacement card. Apply online if youre not changing anything on your card and you are eligible. This option is available in most states. You will need to make a my Social Security account first. Or complete an application. If you can not apply online, fill out an application and return it to the SSA. Find out where to take it in person or mail it.
• ## 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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## Determine Wages For Each Year You Worked

You can get your earnings records from the Social Security Administration. Simply sign into mySocialSecurity and click “View Earnings Record.” You will need to create an account if you don’t already have one.

Your earnings record will list your wages for every year you worked and paid into the Social Security system. However, you’re only given credit for wages you paid Social Security tax on.

There’s a maximum annual limit on wages subject to Social Security tax. No income earned above the annual limit counts toward determining your benefits. In 2019, the maximum earnings subject to Social Security tax are \$132,900. If even if you earned \$132,900.01 or above, wages for 2019 for Social Security purposes would be recorded as \$132,900.

## There Are Social Security Survivor Benefits For Spouses And Children

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.

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## Claim That Politicians Exempted Themselves From The Tax

Critics of Social Security have said that the politicians who created Social Security exempted themselves from having to pay the Social Security tax. When the federal government created Social Security, all federal employees, including the president and members of Congress, were exempt from having to pay the Social Security tax, and they received no Social Security benefits. This law was changed by the Social Security Amendments of 1983, which brought within the Social Security system all members of Congress, the president and the vice president, federal judges, and certain executive-level political appointees, as well as all federal employees hired in any capacity on or after January 1, 1984. Many state and local government workers, however, are exempt from Social Security taxes because they contribute instead to alternative retirement systems set up by their employers.

## Court Interpretation Of The Act To Provide Benefits

How Social Security benefits are calculated on a \$60,000 salary

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has indicated that the Social Security Act has a moral purpose and should be liberally interpreted in favor of claimants when deciding what counted as covered wages for purposes of meeting the quarters of coverage requirement to make a worker eligible for benefits. That court has also stated: “… he regulations should be liberally applied in favor of beneficiaries” when deciding a case in favor of a felon who had his disability payments retroactively terminated upon incarceration. According to the court, that the Social Security Act “should be liberally construed in favor of those seeking its benefits can not be doubted.” “The hope behind this statute is to save men and women from the rigors of the poor house as well as from the haunting fear that such a lot awaits them when journey’s end is near.”

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## Federal Income Taxation Of Benefits

Originally the benefits received by retirees were not taxed as income. Beginning in tax year 1984, with the Reagan-era reforms to repair the system’s projected insolvency, retirees with incomes over \$25,000 , or with combined incomes over \$32,000 or, in certain cases, any income amount generally saw part of the retiree benefits subject to federal income tax. In 1984, the portion of the benefits potentially subject to tax was 50%. The Deficit Reduction Act of 1993 set the portion to 85%. Moreover, since the taxable income threshold is not indexed to inflation, the portion of beneficiaries’ social security payments subject to income tax has risen significantly in real terms since the threshold was set in 1984.

## Theres A Social Security Spousal Benefit

Marriage brings couples an advantage when it comes to Social Security. One spouse can take what’s called a spousal benefit, worth up to 50% of the other spouse’s Social Security benefit. For example, if your monthly Social Security benefit is worth \$2,000 but your spouse’s own benefit is only worth \$500, your spouse can collect a spousal benefit worth \$1,000 — bringing in \$500 more in income per month.

Just as the benefit based on your own work history is reduced if you claim it early, the same is true for a spousal benefit. That 50% figure is the maximum amount that only a spouse who is at least full retirement age is eligible for. Taking the spousal benefit early at, say, age 62, reduces the amount to as little as 32.5% of the higher earners benefit. If you take your own benefit early and then later switch to a spousal benefit, your spousal benefit will still be reduced.

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## Average The Highest 35 Years

The Social Security benefits calculation uses your highest 35 years of earnings to calculate your average monthly earnings. If you do not have 35 years of earnings, a zero will be used in the calculation, which will lower the average. In the table below, the highest 35 years are listed in Column G.

Total the highest 35 years of indexed earnings, and divide this total by 420, which is the number of months in a 35-year work history, to find the Average Indexed Monthly Earnings.

For our example worker, who was born in 1953 and turned 60 in 2013, the highest 35 years of wages total \$1,919,040. Divide by 420 to get an AIME of \$4,569.

How to Calculate Your AIME for Social Security Benefits
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## Next Steps To Consider

This information is intended to be educational and is not tailored to the investment needs of any specific investor.

Fidelity does not provide legal or tax advice. The information herein is general and educational in nature and should not be considered legal or tax advice. Tax laws and regulations are complex and subject to change, which can materially impact investment results. Fidelity cannot guarantee that the information herein is accurate, complete, or timely. Fidelity makes no warranties with regard to such information or results obtained by its use, and disclaims any liability arising out of your use of, or any tax position taken in reliance on, such information. Consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific situation.

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

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## Your Disability Payment Is Based On Your Average Lifetime Earnings Before You Became Disabled The Severity Of Disability Does Not Factor In Although Payments From Other Sources Can

Unlike Supplemental Security Income , which also pays benefits to people who are disabled and unable to work but is based on limited income and resources, SSDI requires that you have worked and paid Social Security taxes for a certain length of time.

The average SSDI payment is currently \$1,277. The highest monthly payment you can receive from SSDI in 2021, at full retirement age, is \$3,148. This article covers how the monthly benefit is calculated.

## Budget Basics: How Does Social Security Work

Social Security was created in 1935 with the goal of providing economic security to the nations elderly it was expanded in the 1950s to include support for the disabled. The program is operated largely on a pay-as-you-go basis: current employers and employees contribute taxes that fund benefits to retired workers and survivors in the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance program, as well as disabled workers and their families under the Disability Insurance program.

Today, Social Security is the largest program in the federal budget and typically makes up almost one-quarter of total federal spending. The program provides benefits to nearly 65 million beneficiaries, or about 20 percent of the American population. Nearly 9 out of 10 individuals over the age of 65 receive benefits, and those benefits represent about 33 percent of total income to older Americans.

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## Fact #: Social Security Is Particularly Important For People Of Color

Social Security is a particularly important source of income for groups with low earnings and less opportunity to save and earn pensions, including Black and Latino workers and their families, who face higher poverty rates both during their working lives and in old age. The poverty rate among Black and Latino seniors is over 2.5 times as high as for white seniors. There is a significant racial retirement wealth gap, leading seniors of color to face more retirement insecurity than white seniors. African American and Latino workers are less likely to be offered workplace retirement plans and likelier to work in low-wage jobs with little margin for savings. Social Security helps reduce the economic disparities between white seniors and seniors of color.

## How Do You Calculate Your Social Security Taxes

How is my Social Security benefit calculated?

“Social Security taxes” can refer to taxes paid into the Social Security system or taxes paid on Social Security benefits. The taxes that fund Social Security come from the payroll tax, which is 6.2% for employees or 12.4% for self-employed individuals.

When you’re receiving Social Security benefits, you’ll still have to pay income taxes, but you won’t owe taxes on all of your benefits. Those whose total annual income tops \$34,000 will pay income tax on 85% of their Social Security benefits. Otherwise, they will pay income tax on 50% of their Social Security benefits.

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## The Social Security Benefits Formula Is Progressive

Social Security, in general, is meant to replace about 40% of pre-retirement income. As you can see, the formula works to do that for most workers. Remember our example of a person with an AIME of \$6,190.48. His primary insurance amount came to around \$2,414 which is about 39% of his average inflation-adjusted wage.

However, the Social Security benefit formula is progressive. A progressive system redistributes income from people with higher lifetime average earnings to people with lower lifetime average earnings. It’s easy to see that the benefits formula is progressive, because you get benefits equal to 90% of your AIME if you earned only a small amount of money — but those who earned larger amounts get an ever-decreasing percentage of AIME factored into their benefits.

The result of this formula is that the ratio of lifetime benefits received by someone with lower earnings is higher, relative to payroll taxes paid, than the ratio of benefits-to-taxes-paid for a higher-earner. While higher earners do tend to live longer and collect benefits for more years, this only partly offsets the progressiveness of the benefits formula.

## Fact #: Social Security Provides A Guaranteed Progressive Benefit That Keeps Up With Increases In The Cost Of Living

Social Security benefits are based on the earnings on which you pay Social Security payroll taxes. The higher your earnings , the higher your benefit.

Social Security benefits are progressive: they represent a higher proportion of a workers previous earnings for workers at lower earnings levels.

Social Security benefits are progressive: they represent a higher proportion of a workers previous earnings for workers at lower earnings levels. For example, benefits for a low earner retiring at age 65 in 2020 replace about half of their prior earnings. But benefits for a high earner replace about one-quarter of prior earnings, though they are larger in dollar terms than those for the low-wage worker.

Many employers have shifted from offering traditional defined-benefit pension plans, which guarantee a certain benefit level upon retirement, toward defined-contribution plans s), which pay a benefit based on a workers contributions and the rate of return they earn. Social Security, therefore, will be most workers only source of guaranteed retirement income that is not subject to investment risk or financial market fluctuations.

Once someone starts receiving Social Security, their benefits increase to keep pace with inflation, helping to ensure that people do not fall into poverty as they age. In contrast, most private pensions and annuities are not adjusted for inflation.

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