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

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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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