10 Social Security Calculators That Can Help You Decide When to Claim

One of the most important retirement decisions you will make is when to apply for Social Security. Several retirement calculators have been developed to help you determine the optimal retirement age to start Social Security payments.

Here are 10 Social Security calculators worth trying:

— Retirement Estimator.

My Social Security Retirement Calculator.

Online Benefits Calculator.

— Planning for Retirement.

— Social Security Benefits Calculator.

— Social Security Calculator.

Retirement Age Calculator.

Early or Late Retirement Calculator.

Retirement Earnings Test Calculator.

Life Expectancy Calculator.

These calculators can help you begin thinking about what you can do to maximize the amount you will receive from Social Security in retirement. Here’s how to decide which calculator will best help you make your Social Security claiming decision.

Retirement Estimator

The Social Security Administration’s Retirement Estimator uses your actual Social Security earnings record to provide a benefit estimate for three claiming ages: age 62, your full retirement age and 70. The estimate is likely to be the most accurate for people close to retirement who have a long earnings history.

The tool allows you to adjust your future income and select alternative ages to stop working and examine how that changes the amount you will receive from Social Security. However, the calculator does not make recommendations about the best age to claim. You also have to enter some personal information, including your Social Security number, to use the tool. You can only use the Retirement Estimator if you have enough credits to qualify for benefits but have not yet begun your Social Security payments.

[READ: How Much You Will Get From Social Security.]

My Social Security Retirement Calculator

The My Social Security Retirement Calculator automatically gives you an estimate of your Social Security benefit if you start payments at age 62, full retirement age and age 70, based on your actual earnings history. You can also enter alternate retirement ages and the average amount you expect to earn in the future to get a more accurate estimate of your future Social Security benefit. You need to create a my Social Security account in order to use this tool.

“The benefits calculator found by logging into your specific my Social Security account is generally the easiest to use because it already has your information and, instead of inputting historical data, you can spend time looking at different scenarios like different filing dates or future income,” says Ashley Coake, a certified financial planner and founder of Cultivate Financial Planning in Radford, Virginia. “They’ve recently updated the information here to show a graphical illustration of how you can expect your benefit to change based on your filing age.”

Online Benefits Calculator

If you don’t want to create a my Social Security account or enter your Social Security number online, the Social Security Administration’s Online Benefits Calculator allows you to manually enter your earnings history, date of birth and preferred retirement age to get an estimate of your future Social Security benefit. You need a copy of your Social Security statement to use this tool, and it may take a while to type in each year of earnings.

Planning for Retirement

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Planning for Retirement tool provides a rough estimate of your monthly or annual Social Security payments at various claiming ages based on your birth date and the highest annual salary you have earned. An interactive graph shows how claiming at ages 62 through 70 increases or decreases your monthly or annual payments and the lifetime amount you will receive by age 85.

The site also provides personalized information about the role that marital status, desired retirement age, spending expectations, other sources of retirement income and longevity can play in your claiming decision. However, since the tool doesn’t use your actual earnings, the estimate is likely to be less accurate than the SSA’s calculators, especially for young people or those with variable incomes.

[Read: The Most Popular Ages to Collect Social Security.]

Social Security Benefits Calculator

The AARP Social Security Benefits Calculator allows you to input income for both you and a spouse at the same time. You can compare how much you will receive at various claiming ages with your likely retirement expenses.

“With the use of a user-friendly, interactive slider, AARP’s calculator shows the impact of your claiming age, estimates certain living expenses and shows how much your benefit would cover of them based on your claiming age,” says Joshua Rosenblum, a communications officer for the Pew Charitable Trusts and a former AARP spokesperson for economic security.

Another unique feature of the AARP calculator is a graph showing what happens to your benefit if you work and claim Social Security benefits at the same time.

[See: 10 Ways to Increase Your Social Security Payments.]

Social Security Calculator

Bankrate’s Social Security Calculator provides a quick estimate of future Social Security benefits on a single page. Users can also create a customized report that explains the likely monthly and annual payout at various claiming ages and how this income compares to what they earned during their final year of work.

The tool is best suited for individuals or married couples in which only one spouse works. The calculation needs to be run twice if each spouse will claim Social Security based on his or her own work record. The calculator also rounds the user’s full retirement age to the nearest full year, even though retirees born in some years have a more specific retirement age, such as 66 and 6 months, which is likely to produce a slightly less accurate estimate.

Retirement Age Calculator

Your Social Security full retirement age depends on the year you were born. The Social Security Administration’s simple Retirement Age Calculator allows you to input your birth year and quickly find out the exact age you will be eligible to claim your full Social Security retirement benefit. Your Social Security payments will be reduced if you start payments before your full retirement age, and the Retirement Age Calculator also explains the exact percentage of the benefit reduction depending on the year and month when you start payments.

Early or Late Retirement Calculator

Monthly Social Security benefits are reduced if you start payments before your full retirement and increase for each month of delayed claiming up until age 70. The Social Security Administration’s Early or Late Retirement Calculator can help you compute the change in your payment amount based on the exact month you plan to start Social Security.

Retirement Earnings Test Calculator

If you are younger than your full retirement age and continue to work after starting Social Security payments, part of your Social Security benefit might be temporarily withheld. You can use the Social Security Administration’s Retirement Earnings Test Calculator to figure out how much of your benefit will be withheld based on the amount you expect to earn. Once you turn your full retirement age, your benefit will be recalculated to give you credit for any withheld benefit and your continued earnings.

Life Expectancy Calculator

Deciding the optimal age to begin Social Security payments often involves making an educated guess about how long you will live. The Social Security Administration’s Life Expectancy Calculator will tell you the average number of additional years someone of your age and gender can expect to live. However, this tool does not take into account your current health, lifestyle or family history.

“It doesn’t show your joint life expectancy between you and your spouse,” says John Mason, a certified financial planner and president of Mason and Associates in Newport News, Virginia. “A surviving spouse could benefit from you delaying claiming.”

It’s important to note that none of these calculators can provide the exact dollar amount you will receive from the Social Security Administration in retirement. Your actual benefit may differ from Social Security calculator estimates for a variety of reasons, including fluctuating earnings, delayed retirement, inflation adjustments, legislative changes, tax withholding and the deduction of Medicare premiums from Social Security payments. However, these tools can give you an idea of how your payments will change if you delay claiming Social Security and coordinate benefits with a spouse.

More from U.S. News

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What Is the Maximum Possible Social Security Benefit in 2021?

10 Strategies to Maximize Social Security

10 Social Security Calculators That Can Help You Decide When to Claim originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 08/16/21: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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