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Old 10-15-2009, 03:29 AM   #21
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I downloaded and use the AnyPIA calculator (detailed calculator) from SSA. It will run most to all scenarios for you.
Compute Your Benefit with our Detailed Calculator
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Old 10-15-2009, 08:31 AM   #22
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I have a friend who volunteered for medical studies (MRI scans) to get the payments, which count as earned income, to go on his SS record. He managed to eke out a few extra years on his SS record this way. However, he was being scanned here at the NIH, which pays pretty well for MRI scan volunteers ($100 for 2 hours), unlike most university research centers ($20 for 2 hours, typically). He chose MRI because it is harmless (but loud) and over quick. Besides, who doesn't want to get a picture of their brain?
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Old 10-15-2009, 11:48 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Want2retire View Post
The estimates that they send you in the mail assume that you are going to continue to work clear up to SS.

I don't know of any way to get more from SS other than to continue to work. Well, either that or delay getting SS until 70.

Can you get an equal amount from somewhere else? Maybe the rental units you were talking about could provide you with some income.

Make sure you have enough quarters worked to even be eligible for any SS at all when you get older (you are so young! you lucky dog)
Want2...the point I've bolded above is an EXCELLENT point and one very few people notice. I hope to FIRE at age 53, and as a result my benefit will likely be significantly less.
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Old 10-16-2009, 06:51 AM   #24
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Want2...the point I've bolded above is an EXCELLENT point and one very few people notice. I hope to FIRE at age 53, and as a result my benefit will likely be significantly less.
Dave, I don't think this is the case - at least not under the current SS rules. Provided you meet the 'earnings quarter' requirement and have a reasonably good income for the years you pay in, having little or even zero income for the last 10-15 years prior to collecting SS has only a small impact on your benefit payments. This is due to the system design - to provide a safety net to the low income worker.

In my own situation I stopped working at 58. The hit to my SS benefit at age 66 as a result of zero earnings for those eight years was less than $30 per month.
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Old 10-16-2009, 07:01 AM   #25
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Dave, I don't think this is the case - at least not under the current SS rules. Provided you meet the 'earnings quarter' requirement and have a reasonably good income for the years you pay in, having little or even zero income for the last 10-15 years prior to collecting SS has only a small impact on your benefit payments. This is due to the system design - to provide a safety net to the low income worker.

In my own situation I stopped working at 58. The hit to my SS benefit at age 66 as a result of zero earnings for those eight years was less than $30 per month.
When I put zero in the online calculator as my last year of earnings, at the age of 44, it reduced my possible benifits by about 30%, from $3100 to $2100.
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Old 10-16-2009, 07:21 AM   #26
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When I put zero in the online calculator as my last year of earnings, at the age of 44, it reduced my possible benifits by about 30%, from $3100 to $2100.
Yep, if you stop paying into SS when you're a teenager, the impact can be substantial.

I'm on the road with poor internet service and can't run the SS online calculator, but I suspect your situation is due to not having reached the maximum years of SS contributions (35?) before going to zero. Maybe others will chime in with some actual facts to support or refute my recollections.

FUEGO, was it you who ran some of these numbers?
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Old 10-16-2009, 08:41 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
Dave, I don't think this is the case - at least not under the current SS rules. Provided you meet the 'earnings quarter' requirement and have a reasonably good income for the years you pay in, having little or even zero income for the last 10-15 years prior to collecting SS has only a small impact on your benefit payments. This is due to the system design - to provide a safety net to the low income worker.

In my own situation I stopped working at 58. The hit to my SS benefit at age 66 as a result of zero earnings for those eight years was less than $30 per month.
I agree. I retired at 52 with 34 yrs. of earnings. I then worked PT 3 yrs doing taxes so my total was 37 yrs. My benefits did not drop dramatically. SS uses your best 35 yrs. Your earnings for those years are brought up to today's dollars. So that $7,500 you made in 1973 is worth $40,000 today and so on. CD's problem is that he does not have the 35 years and will have a lot of zero's added in. Zero in todays's dollars is still zero.
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Old 10-16-2009, 09:41 AM   #28
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Dave, I don't think this is the case - at least not under the current SS rules. Provided you meet the 'earnings quarter' requirement and have a reasonably good income for the years you pay in, having little or even zero income for the last 10-15 years prior to collecting SS has only a small impact on your benefit payments. This is due to the system design - to provide a safety net to the low income worker.

In my own situation I stopped working at 58. The hit to my SS benefit at age 66 as a result of zero earnings for those eight years was less than $30 per month.
I think the difference is that you stopped working at 58, and FD is planning to stop working at 53. If FinanceDave had worked 35 years at 53, that would mean that he entered the workforce at 18. If he went to college and didn't work, then he would have had 31 years instead of 35 years. Each additional year he works is making up for one of those zero-balance college years and could make a big difference.
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Old 10-16-2009, 10:53 AM   #29
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I think the difference is that you stopped working at 58, and FD is planning to stop working at 53. If FinanceDave had worked 35 years at 53, that would mean that he entered the workforce at 18. If he went to college and didn't work, then he would have had 31 years instead of 35 years. Each additional year he works is making up for one of those zero-balance college years and could make a big difference.
Or a small difference, depending.

The key is "reasonably good income". Suppose FD averaged $65,000 of (indexed) annual earnings for 30 years. Adding in 5 zeros, dividing by 35, then dividing by 12 gives $4,643 of "average indexed monthly earnings". Using the 2010 bendpoints of $761 and $4,586, his monthly SS benefit is $1,950 (or $23,400 annually).

If he replaces those 5 zeros with 5 more years at $65,000, he will raise his AIME by $774. This will provide another $116 of monthly benefit ($1,393 per year). So the number of years he works goes up by 16%, but his benefit goes up by 6%. The small increase results from the fact that his first 30 years of income put him above the second bendpoint, into the 15% bracket. (If FD only averaged $45,000 for the first 30 years, the benefit increase from an additional 5 years would have been twice as big.)

I suppose the extra $1,393 can be viewed as "big" or "small", depending on your perspective. Mine is that higher income people don't gain a lot of SS benefit from additional work.
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