Social Security Calculator -
How to Use

Learn which social security calculator you should use. Are there differences in the social security benefit calculator?

Yes, there are differences between the calculators. The first is the Quick Calculator and it is just that. You would input your date of birth and your earnings for this year. If you did not have earnings for the current year, you input the earnings for your last year. Input the month and year you expect to start drawing social security and you will receive an estimate of your benefits in today’s dollars or inflated (future) dollars.

Here is a view of the presentation of the calculators on the Social Security website:

social security calculator choices

The second social security retirement calculator is the Online Calculator. For this one, you will need your latest Social Security Statement and will enter the data in a table on the Online Calculator page. You will also enter your date of birth, age at retirement, your earnings in the current year and expected earnings in future years. Based on this information, pressing the Calculate Benefit button will provide you with your estimated benefits in today’s dollars or inflated (future) dollars, if you chose that option.

Additionally, the social security retirement calculator provides your monthly disability benefit amount, your monthly surviving benefits for a) a surviving child, b) your surviving spouse caring for your child. c) your surviving spouse at full retirement age and d) the maximum of total family benefits.

The third and most accurate social security benefits calculator is the Detailed Calculator. In order to use it, you must download the calculator to your computer. PC and MAC versions are both available. This calculator also contains a Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). This provides a reduction for someone who was eligible for a pension based on work that was not covered by social security.

None of the three calculators above are linked to your social security records. Having said that, I recommend that you do indeed use the Detailed Calculator based on your home records that were provided by the social security administration. It is just a good practice to do your own calculation and work your way through the assumptions to determine you calculated benefits.

In addition to using the Detailed Calculator, I feel you should also use the Retirement Estimator that is available on the social security website. This social security retirement calculator does use the social security earnings records to calculate your benefits. Then make your own comparison of the benefits shown for the Retirement Estimator and the Detailed Calculator. If your assumptions were similar for these two social security calculator, then you should be very close, if not right one, identical answers.

Be aware, that your assumptions play a critical role in the calculation process. Should you feel you want additional assistance, toll free phone numbers are provided on the website.

It is well worth it to use more than one social security calculator to provide you with the information you need to make your decisions on when to take your benefits.


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