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How Much Will I Get From Social Security When I Retire?

Here are a couple of ways to estimate the amount of your monthly benefit check in retirement.
By Kimberly Lankford, August 11, 2015

How are Social Security benefits calculated, and how do I find out how much I will get when I retire?

Your Social Security benefits are based on the number of years you’ve worked in jobs covered by Social Security, the amount you earned each year and your age when you start taking benefits. The size of your benefit is based on your 35 highest-paid years when you start to receive benefits. That means if you’ve already worked for 35 years or more, taking a part-time job for the last few years before you sign up for Social Security won’t reduce your benefits.

You can start taking benefits anytime from age 62 to age 70. The older you are when you start, the higher your monthly payouts will be. The "full retirement age" is 66 for people born from 1943 to 1954, then it gradually increases by a few months each year until it reaches 67 for people born in 1960 or later. The maximum benefit for someone retiring at full retirement age in 2015 is $2,663 per month. If your full retirement age is 66, your payouts will be reduced by 25% if you start taking benefits at age 62 instead (your payouts may also be clipped by the "earnings test" if you are working and receiving benefits before your full retirement age). On the other hand, delaying benefits past your full retirement age will boost your annual benefits by 8% for every year you wait until age 70.

You generally need to work for 10 years to qualify for benefits (unless you’re receiving benefits through a spouse. The maximum earnings that count toward your benefit are $118,500 in 2015. Payouts are adjusted each year for inflation -- the increase was 1.7% in 2015.

All Contents © 2015 The Kiplinger Washington Editors

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*Winners appearing on this page do not pay a fee to be considered or to win the Five Star Award. Professionals with a digital profile have paid a promotional fee.
The Five Star Wealth Manager award, administered by Crescendo Business Services, LLC (dba Five Star Professional), is based on 10 objective criteria. Eligibility criteria – required: 1. Credentialed as a registered investment adviser or a registered investment adviser representative; 2. Actively licensed as a registered investment adviser or as a principal of a registered investment adviser firm for a minimum of 5 years; 3. Favorable regulatory and complaint history review (As defined by Five Star Professional, the wealth manager has not; A. Been subject to a regulatory action that resulted in a license being suspended or revoked, or payment of a fine; B. Had more than a total of three settled or pending complaints filed against them and/or a total of five settled, pending, dismissed or denied complaints with any regulatory authority or Five Star Professional’s consumer complaint process. Unfavorable feedback may have been discovered through a check of complaints registered with a regulatory authority or complaints registered through Five Star Professional’s consumer complaint process; feedback may not be representative of any one client’s experience; C. Individually contributed to a financial settlement of a customer complaint; D. Filed for personal bankruptcy within the past 11 years; E. Been terminated from a financial services firm within the past 11 years; F. Been convicted of a felony); 4. Fulfilled their firm review based on internal standards; 5. Accepting new clients. Evaluation criteria – considered: 6. One-year client retention rate; 7. Five-year client retention rate; 8. Non-institutional discretionary and/or non-discretionary client assets administered; 9. Number of client households served; 10. Education and professional designations. Wealth managers do not pay a fee to be considered or placed on the final list of Five Star Wealth Managers. Award does not evaluate quality of services provided to clients. Once awarded, wealth managers may purchase additional profile ad space or promotional products. The Five Star award is not indicative of the wealth manager’s future performance. Wealth managers may or may not use discretion in their practice and therefore may not manage their client’s assets. The inclusion of a wealth manager on the Five Star Wealth Manager list should not be construed as an endorsement of the wealth manager by Five Star Professional or this publication. Working with a Five Star Wealth Manager or any wealth manager is no guarantee as to future investment success, nor is there any guarantee that the selected wealth managers will be awarded this accomplishment by Five Star Professional in the future. For more information on the Five Star award and the research/selection methodology, go to 2,469 Orange County area wealth managers were considered for the award; 187 (8 percent of candidates) were named 2019 Five Star Wealth Managers. 2018: 2,423 considered, 144 winners; 2017: 1,790 considered, 280 winners; 2016: 1,383 considered, 312 winners; 2015: 2010 considered, 351 winners; 2014: 3,489 considered, 302 winners; 2013: 2,293 considered, 415 winners; 2012: 1,760 considered, 255 winners.