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Old 01-04-2015, 10:14 PM   #41
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I have not used the online calculator mainly because they say that the program anypia would be more accurate, and I thought I might as well get good numbers.

But why couldn't the two give the same result, I wonder now. Takes too much work to code up a better online calculator?
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Old 01-05-2015, 08:06 AM   #42
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I understand that the COLA is applied to the PIA before your benefit is calculated and that with a December birthday you are "62 enough" in January to get the benefit. I also understand you are 62 years and one month so you get 75.4 percent of your PIA. I just want to make sure that if you turn 62 in December, there is no wrinkle that you need to consider in filing to make sure you benefit from the COLA. IOW, do you get the same check if you file in November as you would if you filed in early January?


I have two government pensions. To get the COLA for the year, you have to retire no later than the last weekday in March. If you retire April 1, you do not get the COLA for the year. My experience with that leads me to ask the question about Social Security. I want to make sure that money is not left on the table by filing on the wrong day.
I've never read anything about the date that you file impacting your benefit.

But, I don't know how to prove that statement other than to ask someone at the SS administration.
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Old 01-05-2015, 09:15 AM   #43
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Yeah, and I would trust their answer about as much as I would trust an income tax answer from one of the folks at the customer service windows at the IRS office. Zero liability if they give you the wrong answer.


The best idea I have come up with so far is to apply to "retire" at 62 years and one month in early January.
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Old 01-05-2015, 08:40 PM   #44
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The calculations are complicated, until you have run through them a couple times.

All of the previous years of SS taxed earnings get multiplied by an index factor. Then you take the highest 35 and calculate the Average Indexed Monthly earnings. The first $816 you get 90%, the next $4101 you get 32%. Anything above $4917 you get 15%.

In my case, I had 35 good years of earnings before I walked out the door. My lowest annual indexed earning was approx $80K. I maxed out 2014. My full retirement benefit will go up about $15 per month. If I were to max it out in 2015, my benefit would only go up about $10.

Basically, once you make it into the 15% zone, you can knock out your lowest year of indexed earnings. Your benefit will increase by the difference in yearly earnings, divided by 35, times 15%, divided by 12. You replace your lowest indexed year with a new one that is $10000 higher, you increase your monthly SS payment $3.50.

Your indexed earnings will continue to get indexed, assuming that we have a bit of inflation.
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Old 01-05-2015, 09:18 PM   #45
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Indexing ends two years before your eligibility year. (ELY-62, usually/index year-60)


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Old 01-05-2015, 09:35 PM   #46
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COLAs are applied in December of every year to be paid in January of the following year. The 2015 COLA of 1.7% is applied in December 2014, payable from January on. If you receive a benefit from SSA in any month of 2015 it will include the COLA.


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Old 01-05-2015, 10:45 PM   #47
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Many thanks to Clone and nate2953 for your explanations.

I went back and looked at the output from the program anypia32. It prints out some intermediate steps, and I can correlate some tabular outputs to Clone's descriptions.

PS. They provide the source code of the program, but I am getting too lazy to look at people's code anymore. I'd rather be spoonfed the info.

PPS. Ah, I was too lazy to look for info myself. Here's a spreadsheet for manual calculation that explains the formula: http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10070.pdf.
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Old 01-05-2015, 11:08 PM   #48
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Would anyone like the procedure? It is about 3 pages of instructions for how to find the data, cut and paste it into excel, and then manipulate the data.

The linked 'spreadsheet' walks you through the process as well. I wrote the instructions for using excel to crunch the data rather than doing it by hand. One advantage is that you can update the factors and recalculate every couple years.
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Old 01-05-2015, 11:26 PM   #49
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Or I can download the latest anypia program every so often, and just to run it on the data files that I already entered and saved.

I still liked to understand the gist of the benefit formula, and thanks to your explanations, I get it now.
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Old 01-06-2015, 06:52 AM   #50
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My trick is that I use a spreadsheet that I constructed from scratch based upon the steps that I linked to in another thread fairly recently. I then compare the output of my spreadsheet to the online modeler at SSA where they have your wage history already loaded. If I match then I am good.

I can use the spreadsheet for transparency much easier than anypia. Anypia was my first attempt at this but abandoned fairly quickly.

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Old 01-06-2015, 07:04 AM   #51
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All of the previous years of SS taxed earnings get multiplied by an index factor. Then you take the highest 35 and calculate the Average Indexed Monthly earnings.
Do not forget that any years that have less than the 'Substantial' earnings (WEP) limit do not count at all from what I have read. That is something I just learned.

So, in my situation, the year I worked while in high school, and the year I worked for mainly cash while in college doesn't count... I still have 38 other years to choose from.
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Old 01-06-2015, 07:11 AM   #52
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Do not forget that any years that have less than the 'Substantial' earnings (WEP) limit do not count at all from what I have read. That is something I just learned.

So, in my situation, the year I worked while in high school, and the year I worked for mainly cash while in college doesn't count... I still have 38 other years to choose from.
SS establishes the minimum amount needed to qualify for a quarter. The current amount is $1220. See here Quarter of Coverage

My high school and college work days sure do count, otherwise I'd not be eligible for SS or Medicare
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Old 01-06-2015, 07:26 AM   #53
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SS establishes the minimum amount needed to qualify for a quarter. The current amount is $1220. See here Quarter of Coverage

My high school and college work days sure do count, otherwise I'd not be eligible for SS or Medicare
To be honest, the WEP/Substantial earnings test is still a bit confusing for me. It may only affect persons who work for the federal government and had a pension.

I was going to pay my DGF a wage to get her above the first SS bend point hurdle to help her get 35 years in. After reading about this, it made it seem like it was not worthwhile.

Now, after reading it again, it may seem like a worthwhile way for her to add to SS, add to a Roth, get a healthcare subsidy, and help her retirement while her investment account is allowed to grow for another 10+ years.

So, I need to do some additional reading.
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