How To Calculate Your Monthly Social Security Benefit When You Retire

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As you make plans for your retirement, one of the top questions that often gets asked is, “How much will I get from Social Security?” To find out, you can use the Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

The second most asked question is, “How does the Social Security Administration figure the amount of retirement benefit I will receive?”.

This is where it can get a bit wonky, but basically, Social Security bases its benefits on your lifetime earnings.

They adjust or “index” your actual earnings to account for changes in average wages since the year the earnings were received. Then Social Security calculates your average indexed monthly earnings during the 35 years in which you earned the most.

They apply a formula to these earnings and arrive at your basic benefit, or “primary insurance amount.”

This is how much you would receive at your full retirement age — 65 or older, depending on your date of birth.

Factors That Change the Amount of your Retirement Benefit

  • You choose to get benefits before your full retirement age. You can begin to receive Social Security benefits as early as age 62, but at a reduced rate. They will reduce your basic benefit a certain percentage if you retire before reaching full retirement age.
  • You’re eligible for cost-of-living benefit increases starting with the year you become age 62. This is true even if you don’t get benefits until your full retirement age or even age 70. Social Security will add cost-of-living increases to your benefit beginning with the year you reach 62, and up to the year you start receiving benefits.
  • You delay your retirement past your full retirement age. They increase Social Security benefits a certain percentage (depending on your date of birth) if you delay receiving benefits until after your full retirement age. If you do so, Social Security will increase your benefit amount until you start taking benefits, or until you reach age 70.
  • You’re a government worker with a pension. If you also get, or are eligible for, a retirement or disability pension from work for which you didn’t pay Social Security taxes (usually a government job or a job in a foreign country), They will apply a different formula to your average indexed monthly earnings.

If you would like more information then visit www.socialsecurity.gov, and search for Retirement Age Calculator

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