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Estimate My Social Security Benefits

Control Your Capital Gains And Harvest Your Losses

How to Calculate Your Social Security Benefits

During bull markets, the capital gains that retirees can generate when they sell investments to cover living expenses can be a big contributor to getting more of their Social Security taxed. For every $1,000 in additional capital gains you have, you could potentially add $500 to $850 to the amount of your Social Security benefits that youll have to include as taxable income.

If you can avoid those gains or defer them to another year, it could help you avoid paying more taxes on your benefits. Moreover, if you can harvest capital losses on losing investments, it could help offset not only gains on other investments but also up to $3,000 of other types of income each year. That could end up saving you hundreds of dollars in taxes.

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Social Security In The Us

Before Social Security , care for the elderly or disabled in the U.S. wasn’t a federal responsibility if they weren’t cared for by family, it fell into the hands of municipalities or states. This changed in 1935 when the Social Security Act was first established in the U.S. by President Franklin Roosevelt. The first taxes were collected starting in January 1937, which enabled monetary assistance to qualified Americans with inadequate or no income. Originally, SS was just a program that paid out retirement benefits, but a 1939 change added survivors benefits for a retiree’s spouse and children. In addition, in 1956, disability benefits were added.

Today, SS in the U.S. plays a very important role in keeping a lot of older Americans out of poverty. For most Americans in retirement, it is their major source of income, and for a significant percentage, it is their only source of income, even though SS was never intended to be a full replacement of income. On average, SS pays lower-wage earners higher relative benefits than higher-wage earners. In addition, lower-wage earners tend to pay less tax and are more likely to receive social insurance disability income and survivor benefits. SS is sometimes referred to as Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance .

Social Security Facts

When To Include Social Security In Gross Income

There are certain situations when seniors must include some of their Social Security benefits in gross income. If you are married but file a separate tax return and live with your spouse at any time during the year, then 85% your Social Security benefits are considered gross income which may require you to file a tax return.

In addition, a portion of your Social Security benefits are included in gross income, regardless of your filing status, in any year the sum of half your Social Security benefit plus all of your adjusted gross income, plus all of your tax-exempt interest and dividends, exceeds $25,000, or $32,000 if you are married filing jointly.

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How Does The Social Security Administration Calculate Benefits

Benefits also depend on how much money youâve earned in life. The Social Security Administration takes your highest-earning 35 years of covered wages and averages them, indexing for inflation. They give you a big fat âzeroâ for each year you donât have earnings, so people who worked for fewer than 35 years may see lower benefits.

The Social Security Administration also makes annual Cost of Living Adjustments, even as you collect benefits. That means the retirement income you collect from Social Security has built-in protection against inflation. For many people, Social Security is the only form of retirement income they have that is directly linked to inflation. Itâs a big perk that doesnât get a lot of attention.

Primary Insurance Amount Calculation

How to Access Your Social Security Benefits Statement

For 2022, the SSA established the first bend point as $1,024 and the second bend point as $6,172. Using the AIME from the earlier example of $10,141 and the bend points, we can calculate the primary insurance amount .

Below are the steps to calculating the PIA:

  • Multiply the first $1,024 of the persons AIME by 90% = $921.60
  • Subtract the 1st and 2nd bend point and multiply that difference by 32% = $5,148*.32 = $1,647.35*
  • Subtract the 2nd bend point amount from the total AIME amount and multiply the difference by 15%. = $3,969*.15 = $595.35

*Please note that the calculation results are required to be rounded down to the next lower multiple of 10 cents.

  • The PIA is the sum of the three calculation results: = $3,164.30

*The multipliers90%, 32%, and 15%are set by law and do not change annually. The bend points are inflation-indexed but only through age 62. PIA is effectively locked in at age 62.

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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.

Social Security For Spouses And Survivors

Spousal benefits are available to current or widowed spouses aged 62 or older. Applications for spousal benefits are not valid until the other spouse files for their own benefits. It is possible for a non-working spouse to be eligible for a spousal benefit based on their working spouse’s benefit. Based on the working spouse’s age of retirement, the spousal benefit can be up to half of the working spouse’s benefit.

A widow or widower can collect a survivor benefit as early as age 60, given that the marriage lasted more than nine months. This requirement is waived if the widow or widower has a child under the age of 16. In the case where both individuals in a married couple are receiving SS benefits, and one dies, the widow or widower can continue receiving their own benefit or their spouse’s, but not both. It is also possible for a widow or widower to switch benefits in retirement. For instance, if the deceased spouse was scheduled to receive larger benefit amounts at age 70, the widow or widower can first file for their own benefits, then claim their former spouse’s benefits later in order to maximize payments.

A person who is divorced, who was married for more than 10 years and has not remarried, can receive benefits based on their ex-spouse’s work history as long as the divorced person meets all of the following conditions:

The ex-spouse’s benefits can also be claimed even if the ex-spouse has not filed for their own benefits, as long as both parties are above age 62.

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How Can I See My Cost

If you set up your My Social Security account online by Nov. 15, you can now see how much your benefits will be increased for 2023. Just log in to your My Social Security account and check the message center to view the document that has all the details about your new 2023 benefit amount.

The document should tell you how much your monthly benefit is before and after deductions, and when you’ll get your first payment with the COLA increase.

If you didn’t sign up for a My Social Security account, keep an eye on your mailbox because you’ll receive a COLA notice in the mail sometime this month.

Note that your higher Social Security payment will take effect in January 2023. If you’re a Supplemental Security Income beneficiary, your first increased payment will be on Dec. 30.

Who Can Use The Retirement Estimator

Fisher Investments Explains How to Estimate Your Social Security Benefit

You can use the Retirement Estimator if you have enough Social Security credits to qualify for benefits and you are not:

  • Currently receiving benefits on your own Social Security record.
  • Waiting for a decision about your application for benefits or Medicare.
  • Age 62 or older and receiving benefits on another Social Security record.
  • Eligible for a Pension Based on Work Not Covered By Social Security.

If you are currently receiving only Medicare benefits, you can still get an estimate. For more information, read our publication Retirement Information for Medicare Beneficiaries.

If you cannot use the Retirement Estimator or you want a survivors or disability benefit estimate, please use one of our other benefit calculators.

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Do You Expect To Live A Long Life

Many people live longer than they expect.

Because Social Security provides guaranteed income for life, its especially valuable to you when you reach age 80 and beyond. Claiming benefits at your full Social Security benefit age or later could be a good way to secure your monthly income during your later years. Your benefit increases the longer you wait to claim, up to age 70, and is adjusted annually with the cost of living. If you live into your 80s but claim at age 62 instead of your full retirement age or later, your total lifetime benefits will be lower by thousands of dollars.Calculate your expected longevity.

Claiming at your full benefit age could still make sense for you.

We understand its difficult to make predictions. You may want to plan for the possibility that you may spend 20 or more years in retirement. On average, a woman reaching age 65 today will live to age 87, and a man will live to age 84. Waiting to claim as long as you can could still make sense for you if you are married, are the higher earner in the household, and want your surviving spouse to keep the highest monthly benefit after you die. Remember, you can claim at any point between age 62 and 70. Each additional month that you wait to claim gives you a permanent increase in your monthly benefit which becomes more valuable as you age.Calculate your longevity.

Theres a good chance that youll live into your 80s and beyond.

Effects On The Budget

According to the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation , implementing the first alternative would raise the maximum taxable amount to $300,000 in calendar year 2023 and increase revenues by an estimated $692 billion from 2023 through 2032. Because Social Security benefits are tied to the amount of earnings on which taxes are paid, however, some of that increase in revenues would be offset by additional benefits paid to people with earnings above the maximum taxable amount under current law. On net, this alternative would reduce federal budget deficits by an estimated $670 billion over the 10-year period. If the maximum taxable amount was adjusted by a different amount, the change in revenues would not necessarily be proportional because earnings are not evenly distributed.

Implementing the second alternative would decrease the deficit by $1.2 trillion from 2023 through 2032, according to JCT.

Although the estimates presented here reflect the assumption that total compensation would remain unchanged, they allow for behavioral responses to the higher tax. If total compensation remained unchanged, then increases in employers’ contributions to payroll taxes would have to reduce other forms of compensation. The decrease in taxable wages and benefits would reduce the income base for individual income and payroll taxes, partially offsetting the increase in employers’ payroll taxes. The estimates for the option reflect that income and payroll tax offset.

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Maximum Social Security Benefits You Can Get

The maximum monthly Social Security benefit available to someone retiring in 2021 is $3,895, which assumes that:

  • They worked 35 years or more
  • In their 35 top-earning years, their income met or exceeded the SSAs maximum taxable amount, so that they paid the largest Social Security tax amount possible for each of those years
  • They are retiring at age 70, which entitles them to the maximum delayed retirement credit

For comparison, the table below lists the monthly benefits for workers who plan to retire in 2021 whose earnings met or exceeded the SSA maximum-taxable limit every year of their working lives, from age 22. This situation is far from typical, but it shows the impact of retirement age on Social Security benefits, isolated from other factors.

Maximum Social Security Benefit for Workers Retiring in 2021
Age

When Should I Start Collecting Social Security

How to Access Your Social Security Benefits Statement

Ultimately, the decision of when to begin collecting Social Security is one you have to make. It depends on your age, your health status, how much you spend and how much you have saved. Its generally best to start collecting as late as you can, because you get a larger monthly payment, which is adjusted for inflation each year.

Consider a retiree who was born in 1950 and averaged $50,000 a year in salary. If she has $3,000 a month in expenses, her Social Security check would cover 48 percent of her expenses if she started Social Security at age 62. If she waited till age 70, her check would cover 85 percent of her expenses. Every year she delays retirement, her Social Security payout which is adjusted annually for inflation rises by about $1,649.

Traditionally, the retirement system in the U.S. has been a three-legged stool: Social Security, savings and pensions. Social Security was never intended to be the sole source of income for retirement. Increasingly, however, employers have been moving away from their employer-sponsored pension plans in favor of tax-deferred retirement savings accounts, such as 401 plans.

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How Does This Year’s Cola Compare To Previous Increases

Since 1975, Social Security benefits have been adjusted automatically every year based on increases in the cost of living. Previously, lawmakers would have to vote for increases, meaning years could go by before retirees saw a bump in their checks.The 8.7% increase announced for 2023 is the largest since 1981, when it was 11.2%.

The biggest increase ever, 14.3%, was in 1980, when the US was in the middle of a deep recession. In fact, all the highest COLA were in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Year

What Is The Expected Social Security Increase For 2023

As such, a 10.5% COLA would increase the average retiree benefit of $1,668 by $175.10, rounded as done by the Social Security Administration, TSCL further notes. Based on the April CPI data released in May, TSCL estimated that the annual COLA for 2023 could be around 8.6%which would be the highest since 1981.

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Theres A Social Security Spousal Benefit

Marriage is rewarded when it comes to Social Security. One spouse can take whats called a spousal benefit, worth up to 50% of the other spouses Social Security benefit. For example, if your monthly Social Security benefit is worth $2,000 but your spouses own benefit is only worth $500, your spouse can collect a spousal benefit worth $1,000 bringing in $500 more in income per month.

Just as the benefit based on your own work history is reduced if you claim it early, the same is true for a spousal benefit. That 50% figure is the maximum amount that only a spouse who is at least full retirement age is eligible for. Taking the spousal benefit early at, say, age 62, reduces the amount to as little as 32.5% of the higher earners benefit. If you take your own benefit early and then later switch to a spousal benefit, your spousal benefit will still be reduced.

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Experienced Legal Counsel You Can Trust

You should regularly check the estimated Social Security benefit youâll eventually get

Whatever your issue with SSDI or SSI, I can offer you sound answers based on decades of experience both hearing disability cases for the SSA and helping clients with their claims and appeals. Iâm here to help people receive the benefits they deserve when they need them.

If youâre located in or near Raleigh, North Carolina, or Roanoke Rapids, Fayetteville, or Greensboro, feel free to reach out to me with your disability claims issues at Lloyd King Law Firm PLLC.

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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 2022, the Retirement Earnings Test Exempt Amount is $19,560/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.

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