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How To Calculate Social Security Retirement Benefit Amount

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

How Social Security Retirement Benefits Are Calculated [3 Easy Steps]

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.

What If I Continue Working In My 60s

Many people whose health allows them to continue working in their 60s and beyond find that staying in the workforce keeps them young and gives them a sense of purpose. If this sounds like something youâd like to do, know that working after claiming early benefits may affect the amount you receive from Social Security. Why? Because the Social Security Administration wants to spread out your earnings so you donât outlive them. If you claim Social Security benefits early and then continue working, youâll be subject to whatâs called the Retirement Earnings Test.

If youâre between age 62 and your full retirement age, and youâre claiming benefits, you need to know about the Earnings Test Exempt Amount, a threshold that changes yearly. For 2021, the Retirement Earnings Test Exempt Amount is $18,960/year . If youâre in this age group and claiming benefits, then every $2 you make above the Exempt Amount will reduce by $1 the Social Security benefits you’ll receive.

Contrary to popular belief, this money doesnât disappear. It gets credited back to you – with interest – in the form of higher future benefits. You may hear people grumbling about the Social Security âEarnings Taxâ, but itâs not really a tax. Itâs a deferment of your benefits designed to keep you from spending too much too soon. And after you hit your full retirement age, you can work to your heartâs content without any reduction in your benefits.

Soaring Benefits Won’t Offset Social Security’s Shortcomings

On the surface, an average retired worker benefit increase of $145/month would probably make seniors pretty happy. But not all is what it seems — even with historic benefit increases seemingly on the horizon.

As noted, Social Security’s COLA isn’t a tool that’s designed to help beneficiaries get ahead. If they’re receiving a significant year-over-year increase, it’s because the cost of everyday goods and services has increased by an equally jaw-dropping amount. Energy, food, and housing costs have all been rising at an alarming pace, and threaten to gobble up most or all of retired workers’ COLA in 2023.

But there’s an even bigger problem, and it has to do with Social Security’s inflationary tether, the CPI-W.

As the full name of this inflation-measuring index implies, it tracks the spending habits of “urban wage earners and clerical workers.” These are typically working-age Americans who aren’t receiving a Social Security benefit, and who spend their money very differently than the seniors who comprise the bulk of program recipients.

Since 2000, TSCL reports that the purchasing power of Social Security income is down by 40%. An estimated 8.6% COLA in 2023 won’t help retired workers make up much or any ground, relative to what they’ve already lost.

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Age To Receive Full Social Security Benefits

Year of birth
67
*People born Jan. 1 of any year refer to previous year.

Alternatively, if you decide to claim but regret your decision, you may get a do-over through what is called a withdrawal of application.

This is only available so long as it has been less than 12 months since your decision to claim was made. However, the catch is that you will need to repay all the benefits you received including spousal or dependent benefits that may have gone to your family in order to reverse your decision. What’s more, you can only do this once in a lifetime.

How Do You Calculate Your Social Security Taxes

Free Social Security Calculator Tool: Estimate Your Benefits â My Money ...

“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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Calculate My Social Security Income

These days thereâs a lot of doom and gloom about Social Securityâs solvency – or lack thereof. And regardless of whether you think Social Securityâs future is secure, the fact remains that you shouldnât plan on living exclusively off your Social Security benefits. After all, Social Security wasnât designed to make up a retireeâs entire income.

Still, many people do find themselves in the position of having to live off their Social Security checks. And even if you have other income sources in retirement, Social Security can make up a significant part of your retirement income plan. That’s why itâs important to know all the rules surrounding eligibility, benefit amounts, taxation and more.

Do you need help managing your retirement savings? To find a financial advisor near you, try our free online matching tool.

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.

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How To Calculate Social Security Benefits In Excel

If you are in your late 50s and approaching retirement, you can create a useful model of your future benefits. It works best to do this in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, as follows:

  • Using a recent Social Security statement, list in spreadsheet column A your taxable Social Security earnings year by year.
  • List in column B the most recently published NAWI adjustment factors as published by the SSA.
  • Multiply columns A and B and output the result to column C.
  • Identify in column D the 35 highest values in column C. Add these together and divide the sum by 420 . This will approximate your AIME.
  • Use the most recently published bend points to convert your AIME into a PIA.

You also can fill in hypothetical values for estimated taxable Social Security earnings in future years until you plan to stop working. To be conservative, use a NAWI adjustment factor of 1.0000 in column B for all future years.

A financial advisor who fully understands this process can help verify your calculations, advise you on when to start Social Security benefits, and estimate the future benefits you can expect to receive.

Claiming Social Security Benefits At The Right Time Means More Money In Your Pocket Here’s A Guide To Everything From Knowing Your Full Retirement Age To Taking Social Security Spousal Benefits

How to Calculate Your Social Security Benefits

For many Americans, Social Security benefits are the bedrock of retirement income so maximizing this stream of income is critical.

The rules for claiming Social Security benefits can be complex, but this guide will help you successfully navigate the details. Educating yourself can ensure that you claim the maximum amount to which you are entitled.

Here are 12 essential details you need to know.

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What Does Aarps Social Security Benefits Calculator Do

The calculator provides an estimate of your Social Security benefits, based on your earnings history and age. Our tool also helps you see what percentage of daily expenses your payments can cover, and how you can increase your benefits by waiting to collect. It can also tell you how your retirement earnings will be affected if you keep working after you claim your Social Security benefit.

Fact #: Social Security Is More Than Just A Retirement Program It Provides Important Life Insurance And Disability Insurance Protection As Well

Over 64 million people, or more than 1 in every 6 U.S. residents, collected Social Security benefits in June 2020. While older Americans make up about 4 in 5 beneficiaries, another one-fifth of beneficiaries received Social Security Disability Insurance or were young survivors of deceased workers.

In addition to Social Securitys retirement benefits, workers earn life insurance and SSDI protection by making Social Security payroll tax contributions:

  • About 96 percent of people aged 20-49 who worked in jobs covered by Social Security in 2019 have earned life insurance protection through Social Security.
  • For a young worker with average earnings, a spouse, and two children, thats equivalent to a life insurance policy with a face value of over $725,000 in 2018, according to Social Securitys actuaries.
  • About 89 percent of people aged 21-64 who worked in covered employment in 2019 are insured through Social Security in case of severe disability.

The risk of disability or premature death is greater than many realize. Some 6 percent of recent entrants to the labor force will die before reaching the full retirement age, and many more will become disabled.

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Including Qualified Family Members

  • 1Understand benefits for dependents. A child under 18 may qualify for benefits if a parent is disabled or retired and drawing Social Security benefits.XResearch source Likewise, a dependent grandchild may also claim a benefit.XResearch source
  • If the parent is disabled, then the benefit is up to 50% of the parents disability rate.XTrustworthy SourceUS Social Security AdministrationIndependent U.S. government agency that administers Social Security and related informationGo to source If the parent is retired, then the benefit amount is 50% of the Social Security benefit the parent would receive at their full-retirement age.XResearch source
  • Note that the child does not have to be disabled him or herself for the family to receive the benefit.
  • After reaching 18 , the benefits will stop unless the child is actually disabled. After 18, a disabled child must meet the following criteria: the disability must have started before age 22 and the child must meet the definition of “disability” for adults.XTrustworthy SourceUS Social Security AdministrationIndependent U.S. government agency that administers Social Security and related informationGo to source
  • 2Understand family maximums. The government caps benefits paid to a family at around 150-180% of your benefit.XTrustworthy SourceUS Social Security AdministrationIndependent U.S. government agency that administers Social Security and related informationGo to source
  • Social Security Bend Points

    How Does Social Security Work? Top Questions Answered

    The Social Security benefits formula is designed to replace a higher proportion of income for low-income earners than for high-income earners. To do that, the formula uses what are called bend points.” These bend points are adjusted for inflation each year.

    Bend points from the year you turn 62 are used to calculate your Social Security retirement benefits. The example in the table below uses 2020 bend points. It works like this:

    • You take 90% of the first $906 of AIME.
    • You take 32% of the next $5,785 of AIME.
    • You take 15% of any amount over that $5,785.
    • You total those three numbers.

    The result is your primary insurance amount, or PIA, the amount you will receive if you begin benefits at your Full Retirement Age .

    Your PIA is rounded to the next lowest dime, and your benefit amount is rounded to the next lowest dollar.

    Technically, your PIA is calculated, rounded to the next lowest dime, and then any inflation adjustments are applied. That number is then rounded to the next lowest dime. Then any increase or decrease based on age is applied. That number is then rounded down to the next lowest dollar.

    You can see current and historical bend points and the current year’s bend points on the Bend Formula Bend Points page of the Social Security Administration’s website.

    In the example in the table below, you can see how the AIME calculated in the previous step was plugged into the bend point formula to calculate the PIA.

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    What If I Change My Mind

    If you receive Social Security benefits at a reduced rate, but then change your mind, you have the option of withdrawing your application and paying back to the government what you’ve already received . Then, you could restart benefits at a later date to take advantage of a higher payout. But you are limited to one withdrawal per lifetime.

    For example, let’s say you elected to receive early benefits at age 62, but then decided to go back to work at age 63. You could withdraw your Social Security application within the first 12 months of receiving benefits, pay back the years’ worth of benefits you received, go back to work, and then wait until a later age to restart your benefit checks at a higher level.

    For important details about repaying benefits please read the SSA publication If You Change Your Mind.

    Adjust Your Pia For The Age You Will Begin Benefits

    The final amount of Social Security retirement benefit that you receive is based on the age when you begin benefits.

    The earliest you can begin retirement benefits is age 62 . You get more by waiting until a later ageas late as age 70to begin benefits.

    Of course, another complex formula is used to determine how much more you will receive if you wait.

    This formula uses your Primary Insurance Amount calculated in the previous step. This is the amount you will get if you start benefits at your full retirement age . Your FRA can vary, depending on the year you were born. For people born between 1943 and 1954, as in our example, the FRA is age 66.

    For people born on Jan. 1, the FRA is based on the year prior. Someone born on Jan. 1, 1955, will have an FRA based on 1954.

    A reduction is applied to your PIA if you begin benefits before your FRA. A credit, referred to as a “delayed retirement credit,” is applied if you begin to receive benefits after your FRA.

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    Fact #: Social Security Benefits Are Modest

    Social Security benefits are much more modest than many people realize the average Social Security retirement benefit in June 2020 was about $1,514 a month, or about $18,170 a year. For someone who worked all of their adult life at average earnings and retires at age 65 in 2020, Social Security benefits replace about 40 percent of past earnings. This replacement rate will slip to about 35 percent for a medium earner retiring at 65 in the future, chiefly because the full retirement age, which has already risen to 66, and is gradually climbing to 67 over the 2017-2022 period.

    The average Social Security retirement benefit in June 2020 was $1,514 a month, or about $18,170 a year.

    Moreover, most retirees enroll in Medicares Supplementary Medical Insurance and have Part B premiums deducted from their Social Security checks. As health care costs continue to outpace general inflation, those premiums will take a bigger bite out of their checks.

    Social Security benefits are modest by international standards, too. The United States ranks just outside the bottom third of developed countries in the percentage of an average workers earnings replaced by the public pension system.

    Social Security lifted 1.5 million children out of poverty in 2018, as the chart shows.

    What If I Delay Taking My Benefits

    Social Security Retirement – How Your Benefits Are Calculated

    If you retire sometime between your full retirement age and age 70, you typically earn a “delayed retirement” credit . For example, say you were born in 1955 and your full retirement age is 66 and 2 months. If you started your benefits at age 68, you would receive a credit of 8% per year multiplied by approximately two . This makes your benefit ~15% higher than the amount you would have received at age 66.

    That higher baseline lasts for the rest of your retirement and serves as the basis for future increases linked to inflation. While it’s important to consider your personal circumstancesit’s not always possible to wait, particularly if you are in poor health or can’t afford to delaythe benefits of waiting can be significant.

    If you decide to wait past age 65, you may still need to sign up for Medicare. In some circumstances your Medicare coverage may be delayed and cost more if you do not sign up at age 65.

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    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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