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SS estimator question
Old 05-09-2016, 11:00 AM   #1
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SS estimator question

I recently read a thread on how accurate the SS estimation was for folks who have already started taking SS, and that prompted me to check my estimate on SS again today. The last number I recorded was from last summer (I put $0 earnings for 2014 and the retirement age to be the present age then.) For the estimate criteria today, I put $0 earnings for last year again (although I did w*rk a little over 3 months last year (From Jan to April)), and the retirement age to be my current age. My 66yr and 8 month old payout for some reason increased by $122 a month compared to the time I checked last time..?? Is this normal? Is it because i w*rked last year? Or is part of it COLA? (I checked it a few times last year and the number was always slightly higher than before by a very small amount although the only thing changed was time/age, but no earnings...)
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Old 05-09-2016, 11:20 AM   #2
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Here is the history of COLA increases: https://www.ssa.gov/news/cola/automatic-cola.htm . I don't know what your benefit is but I can't believe it's enough for COLA to increase it $122 in that time.
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Old 05-09-2016, 11:26 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by RunningBum View Post
Here is the history of COLA increases: https://www.ssa.gov/news/cola/automatic-cola.htm . I don't know what your benefit is but I can't believe it's enough for COLA to increase it $122 in that time.
Thank you for the link. Yeah, I thought at least part of the increase was due to COLA, but mine increased from $2253 to $2375 per month (more than 5% increase. Your link showed only 1.7% of increase for last year) and I don't know how to account for my jump.
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Old 05-09-2016, 11:32 AM   #4
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I've found the AnyPIA calculator, downloaded from the SS site, to be extremely accurate. Have you used that?
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Old 05-09-2016, 12:43 PM   #5
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I've found the AnyPIA calculator, downloaded from the SS site, to be extremely accurate. Have you used that?
Thank you for your post. I checked out AnyPIA and got the same results with AnyPIA as with the SS estimator online. So accuracy seems to be the same, and AnyPIA is more work (since I had to add all the earning years by hand), but it is definitely much more flexible. (I added 2015 with AnyPIA also (which I cannot do with the online version since I want to use $0 for future years) and got $28 more for the extra few months I w*rked - total of $2403/mo now.

Anyway, the numbers matched, so I guess I am not going to worry about it. I will check it again in a year and see. I am getting higher numbers than I was before, not the other way around, so no complaints there
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Old 05-09-2016, 04:41 PM   #6
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If I remember correctly, your PIA is calculated using the average wage indexing series until you turn 62. After 62, it adjusts by the COLA increase that is calculated annually. So the multipliers change each year and they are generally updated by sometime in early December. Mine changed from 2366 to 2451 from Dec of 2014 to Dec of 2015 with no W2 earnings. If you use the latest AnyPIA (also updated annually), it should match or you can create your own spreadsheet using the factors available on the Social Security website. Once you have the PIA calculated for the year you turn 62, use the annual COLA increase to adjust going forward. They also adjust the bend points each year, so your calculation can be higher or lower than COLA until 62. So it will change every year even with no earnings and no COLA increases from the annual CPI calculation.


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Old 05-09-2016, 08:58 PM   #7
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Thank you never2l8. I guess I won't have accurate numbers until 62. How accurate do you think are the numbers we are getting before turning 62? I hope they are close.


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Old 05-10-2016, 05:38 AM   #8
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I decided to update my downloaded Any PIA calculator yesterday. My previous version only included real data through 2014. That data assumed a cola increase for 2016 and as we all know that cola was 0 for December 2015. After I downloaded the updated data I noticed that my estimate increased as well. I had printed out the estimate a year ago so I was able to compare the old to the new. There were two reasons why the estimate is higher; 1) even though I had chosen Alternative 3 under Assumptions in the past the new estimate changed the assumptions to Alternative 1, which is the highest Assumption. After I adjusted that component back to Alternative 3, so that I was comparing apples to apples, I still had a higher estimate, albeit much closer to last year's estimate. After further side by side comparisons, I noticed that the updated Assumptions, which plugged in the zero cola for 2016, also had higher assumptions for inflation for the next three years, than Alternative 3's assumptions in last year's version. The assumptions for the December 2016/2017/2018 as of last year were all under 2%, but the updated data assumes cola's for those same years to be over 2%. When I manually inserted the actual zero cola into last year's estimate and made sure that both old and new estimates included identical assumptions for the next three years, the two estimates were the same.

I would also add that 2016 is my last year with income and I know what the earnings will be for this year. I will be claiming my entitlement in 12/18, so future earnings in my case are known and don't fluctuate in either model, another component of the Trustees Alternatives.
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Old 05-10-2016, 09:45 AM   #9
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My assumption defaulted to "No increase beginning with 2016 benefit increase" and the number I got from AnyPIA matched the online calculator result. I believe this is the lowest number of all assumptions. 2015 was my last w*rking year.
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Old 05-10-2016, 10:22 AM   #10
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When I started asking detailed questions like this, I discovered it was easy to create my own spreadsheet using the example here: https://www.ssa.gov/oact/progdata/retirebenefit1.html

That was more informative than trying to infer stuff from the results of the calculators.
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Old 05-10-2016, 11:11 PM   #11
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I agree. Creating your own spreadsheet will give you the best information on how your PIA is changing and you can update it annually as the new factors are available. Looks like the original poster will be 62 in 2020, so the actual wage indexing factors will be available in 4 years. After 2020, his or her PIA will be adjusted for COLA increases annually.

As to how close the numbers are? Hard to say. The latest calculation uses the factors for 2016 which assumes that the person is 62 this year. For the original poster, there are still 4 years of adjustments so, it will change. So it just depends on what wages are doing in that time. In the past 30 years, I only see 1 year where the average wage index decreased, but it was recent (2009), so who knows?


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