Social Security retirement benefits are an important component of many clients’ retirement incomes, but getting reliable estimates of future benefits has always been awkward. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration has announced an upgrade to its online-benefits calculator.
Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue recently unveiled the new online calculator at: www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator. It will provide immediate and personalized benefit estimates to help people plan for their retirement.
The Retirement Estimator is tied to a person’s actual Social Security earnings record and eliminates the need to manually key in years of earnings information.
“Deciding when to retire is one of the most important and difficult decisions many people face,” Commissioner Astrue says. “The Retirement Estimator greatly improves the information available when trying to decide the right time to retire. It is simple, easy-to-use and will provide highly accurate benefit estimates for those nearing retirement age. For younger workers, it will provide valuable information to help them plan and save for their retirement.”
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The Retirement Estimator is interactive, allowing the user to compare different retirement options. For example, a person can change retirement dates or expected future earnings. Individuals also can print out up to three different scenarios at one time, in addition to information about their benefits at age 62 (or their current age, if they’re older), full retirement age and age 70.
The decision on whether to start taking benefits at age 62 remains a hurdle for many retirees, says Shane Barber, a financial advisor with Barber Financial Group in Lenexa, Kan. Barber notes that retirees must consider multiple factors before selecting a benefit-start date: