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

One of the key retirement decisions you will make is when to apply for Social Security. Using a retirement calculator can help you determine the ideal retirement age to start Social Security payments and encourage you to consider taking action to maximize the amount you will receive from Social Security.

To help you navigate this big decision, here are 10 Social Security calculators to consider:

— Social Security Retirement Estimator

— U.S. News Retirement Calculator

— Planning for Retirement

— Social Security Benefits Calculator

— Retirement Age Calculator

— Early or Late Retirement Calculator

— Retirement Earnings Test Calculator

— Life Expectancy Calculator

— Social Security Intelligence Break-Even Calculator

Social Security Retirement Estimator

The Social Security Administration’s Retirement Estimator 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 to get a more accurate estimate of your future Social Security benefit. To use this tool, you must first create a my Social Security account.

For those who choose to take a job in retirement, the amount you earn could impact your benefits, depending on your age and income. If you start collecting benefits before your full retirement age, your payment amount could be lowered if your income surpasses a set threshold. Once you reach full retirement age, you can earn income without the amount having an impact on your benefits.

[READ: 10 Places to Retire Abroad on Social Security Alone]

U.S. News Retirement Calculator

For those who worry their nest egg may be inadequate, the U.S. News retirement calculator provides an estimate of how long your savings and income will last in your golden years. While it isn’t dedicated to Social Security estimates, you can utilize the U.S. News calculator’s functions to make retirement income projections. You’ll fill in your age, how much pretax income you make each year, the amount you have in retirement savings and how much you put aside in savings every month. The calculator also accounts for your retirement age, life expectancy, inflation rate and retirement expenses. Calculations also include annual income increases plus any expected additional retirement income. You can also experiment with your earnings, retirement income projections and savings goals to get a sense of how this can impact your income in your later years.

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, retirement income sources 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: What Is the Full Retirement Age for 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. It also provides benefits estimates for divorced individuals whose marriage lasted a decade or more and have not remarried. The calculator does not include survivor benefits for widows or widowers.

After calculating your estimated benefit, AARP’s tool will show you where you can expect your money to come from during retirement. This could include retirement accounts, Social Security or other pension income. You can change the start year of retirement to see how your finances would adjust.

[READ: How to Maximize Social Security With Spousal Benefits.]

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 medical history.

“The longer you believe you are going to live, the longer it makes sense to wait to take benefits, and the shorter you think you are going to live, the earlier it will appear to be better to claim,” says Brian Kuhn, a financial advisor at Wealth Enhancement Group in Fulton, Maryland. This can be difficult to determine, but it can be used as a general guideline. “When in doubt, waiting is helpful if you have other income options,” Kuhn says.

Social Security Intelligence Break-Even Calculator

This calculator graphically reveals the results to help you visualize what you can expect in benefits. You enter your date of birth and estimated amount for your Social Security paychecks. Then you compare filing early and filing later. You can adjust the amounts for inflation too. You’ll then see how many years it will take to break even if you start collecting at different years. The exercise can help you determine the right age to start benefits, but you’ll want to consider additional lifestyle factors too.

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

How Much Money Do You Need to Retire at Age 40?

How to Retire in 5 Years

Ask a Financial Pro: I Have $1 Million in Retirement Savings. How Much Can I Withdraw Each Year in Retirement?

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

Update 06/20/24: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up