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Why would our SS estimated benefits go down?
Old 04-08-2017, 12:18 PM   #1
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Why would our SS estimated benefits go down?

I just logged into my and my wife's SS accounts to see if our estimated benefit amounts had changed any after year-end 2016. Much to my surprise all of our estimated benefit amounts had gone down. For example, here are my estimates:

FRA: $2840 as of 12/30/16...$2830 now

Age 70: $3604 as of 12/30/16...$3588 now

Age 62: $2018 as of 12/30/16...$2015 now

I realize the differences are not that great but still. And what's weird is my earnings have increased almost every year for the past 30+ years.

Does anyone know why our estimated benefit amounts would have decreased despite the fact our earnings have increased over the years?
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Old 04-08-2017, 12:37 PM   #2
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Lower projected inflation increases used by the SSA?
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Old 04-08-2017, 12:38 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carpediem View Post
I just logged into my and my wife's SS accounts to see if our estimated benefit amounts had changed any after year-end 2016. Much to my surprise all of our estimated benefit amounts had gone down. For example, here are my estimates:

FRA: $2840 as of 12/30/16...$2830 now

Age 70: $3604 as of 12/30/16...$3588 now

Age 62: $2018 as of 12/30/16...$2015 now

I realize the differences are not that great but still. And what's weird is my earnings have increased almost every year for the past 30+ years.

Does anyone know why our estimated benefit amounts would have decreased despite the fact our earnings have increased over the years?
The estimates always state the assumption that your earned SS income will remain the same until you start drawing your benefits.

Perhaps your prior year's earnings were low or zero? That could cause your new estimates to be revised downwards a bit.
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Old 04-08-2017, 12:43 PM   #4
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Mine went up if IIRC, I have stopped working since 2015.
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Old 04-08-2017, 12:50 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by joeea View Post
Perhaps your prior year's earnings were low or zero? That could cause your new estimates to be revised downwards a bit.
No low or zero earnings. As I mentioned previously : "I realize the differences are not that great but still. And what's weird is my earnings have increased almost every year for the past 30+ years."
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Old 04-08-2017, 12:52 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Taxman59 View Post
Lower projected inflation increases used by the SSA?
That's the only reason I can think of.
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Old 04-08-2017, 12:54 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Carpediem View Post
No low or zero earnings. As I mentioned previously : "I realize the differences are not that great but still. And what's weird is my earnings have increased almost every year for the past 30+ years."
Right. You said "almost every year" so I was looking for clarification.
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Old 04-08-2017, 02:27 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Taxman59 View Post
Lower projected inflation increases used by the SSA?
They do not project inflation.... they are giving it in todays dollars...
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Old 04-08-2017, 02:28 PM   #9
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$10/mo. is big.
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Old 04-08-2017, 02:30 PM   #10
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Reduced COLA?
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Old 04-08-2017, 02:30 PM   #11
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I would look at the data to see if any of your salary history has changed....


How many years do you have Maybe a old year dropped off and because of the way they calculate it changed...

Was this last year an increase or a decrease?
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Old 04-08-2017, 04:26 PM   #12
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That's why they call them "Estimates."
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Why would our SS estimated benefits go down?
Old 04-09-2017, 06:47 AM   #13
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Why would our SS estimated benefits go down?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carpediem View Post
I just logged into my and my wife's SS accounts to see if our estimated benefit amounts had changed any after year-end 2016. Much to my surprise all of our estimated benefit amounts had gone down. For example, here are my estimates:



FRA: $2840 as of 12/30/16...$2830 now



Age 70: $3604 as of 12/30/16...$3588 now



Age 62: $2018 as of 12/30/16...$2015 now



I realize the differences are not that great but still. And what's weird is my earnings have increased almost every year for the past 30+ years.



Does anyone know why our estimated benefit amounts would have decreased despite the fact our earnings have increased over the years?

My recollection is that the SSA had assumed a specific rate of inflation for the year 2016, but the cola for that year ended up being zero. Check the calculation of your wages for that year under the assumption last year and the assumptions now.


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Old 04-09-2017, 10:19 AM   #14
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From your benefit amounts, you seem to be hitting the max possible. That means that it simply doesn't matter whether your salary/earnings increases or not since you have been at or over the "Taxed Social Security Earnings" for many years now. Those extra earnings do not increase your future benefits anyways.

So your earnings have nothing to do with any changes.

I got my SSA statement and was pleasantly surprised that because I worked full time during high school, that I don't have any zeroes (0) for any of the top 35 years anymore. But I also read that working years before age 22 don't count, but I am not sure if that is true.

Another cool thing is that back in the 1980s, the max taxed SS earnings were under $50K a year.
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Old 04-09-2017, 02:50 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Carpediem View Post
Does anyone know why our estimated benefit amounts would have decreased despite the fact our earnings have increased over the years?
If you retire or quit working, the amount will go down as SSA's assumption is that you continue to work (at the same level) until the age you begin taking benefits.
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Old 04-09-2017, 05:06 PM   #16
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If you retire or quit working, the amount will go down as SSA's assumption is that you continue to work (at the same level) until the age you begin taking benefits.
That's not necessarily true. For instance, you could have fulfilled SS contribution requirements in 35 of years past at the highest levels while the most recent years could be at a lower level [maybe you have a different job or scaled back your hours] and not be included in your 35 best years.
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Old 04-09-2017, 05:39 PM   #17
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But I also read that working years before age 22 don't count, but I am not sure if that is true.
Where did you read that? (It's not true)
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Old 04-09-2017, 05:42 PM   #18
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Another cool thing is that back in the 1980s, the max taxed SS earnings were under $50K a year.
That's true.

Of course salaries were lower in the 1980s, and the maximum taxable earnings did almost double over the course of the 80s.

see: https://www.ssa.gov/planners/maxtax.html
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Old 04-09-2017, 05:53 PM   #19
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Where did you read that? (It's not true)
In this Q & A:
The Maximum Social Security Benefit for 2017 | Money
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Old 04-09-2017, 06:11 PM   #20
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It says:

"To get the highest benefit possible at your full retirement age (FRA), your income needs to have been at or above the Social Security earnings ceiling (the amount of income subject to payroll tax) each year for at least 35 years since age 22."

That's not the same as saying that the working years before age 22 don't count. They do.

I have no idea what they really mean in this article. The only reference to age 22 in Social Security that I can find only has to do with a child who becomes disabled before age 22.
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