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Howard Kossover: Online estimator can help determine future Social Security benefits

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Howard Kossover: Online estimator can help determine future Social Security benefits
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Q: I have an offer to join a new company and, if I accept it, my earnings will be much lower than now for at least several years. Can I estimate how lower earnings will reduce my future Social Security retirement?

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A: Yes. Estimate the effect of lower or higher future earnings with the Retirement Estimator at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

One of the Social Security retirement planning tools at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2, the Estimator connects to your actual Social Security earnings record to provide personal retirement estimates at age 62, at full retirement age, and at age 70.

The initial Retirement Estimator reply assumes your most recent wages or selfemployment earnings will continue into the future, but you can change this to obtain estimates at different ages and different future earnings amounts. 

Comparing your estimates for the same age based on the initial earnings level and then with lower or higher earnings provides an approximate result of different earnings on your future SSA retirement amount.

With separate requests, you can estimate benefits based on either lower or higher earnings.  Future earnings of more than one amount cannot be used in one estimate.

Social Security retirement is based on your best 35 years of employment and your age, in months, compared to your full retirement age.

The Retirement Estimator provides estimates at different ages. For specific months, other online tools are available in the retirement planner section, www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2.

You can use the Retirement Estimator if you are enrolled in Medicare, but not if you are now applying for or receiving SSA benefits. 

The Estimator reply does not show your personal information or earnings record.

To see your earnings record, establish a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount and view your Social Security Statement.

Did you know? The Social Security Board of Trustees recently released its annual report on the long-term financial status of the Social Security Trust Funds.

Projections are largely unchanged from last year.  Read the report at www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/TR/2013.

Based in Grand Forks, Howard I. Kossover is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Send general interest questions to him at howard.kossover@ssa.gov. Read his online articles at socialsecurityinfo.areavoices.com.

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