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Basic Social Security question
Old 01-15-2020, 05:15 AM   #1
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Basic Social Security question

I'm 53, and still reporting earned income. I can look at my SS estimates now for ages 62, 67 and 70.

These numbers always suggest they're predicated on continuing to make (insert last year's earnings) until retirement age.

If I were to FIRE before that time, would the SS I eventually receive be considerably LESS than the amounts currently estimated?
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Old 01-15-2020, 05:47 AM   #2
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You can use the site below whereby you can change the earnings estimates to be zero for X number of years before retirement.
The instructions are fairly straightforward.

https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/estimator.html
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Old 01-15-2020, 07:10 AM   #3
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FWIW, I retired at 60. When I compared SS at 60 and 62 (w*rking 2 additional years), the difference was minuscule. YMMV!
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Old 01-15-2020, 07:16 AM   #4
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I would like to think that mine now is quite accurate as my investment in SS for the last 10 years has been $0.
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Old 01-15-2020, 07:34 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by ShokWaveRider View Post
I would like to think that mine now is quite accurate as my investment in SS for the last 10 years has been $0.
Well depending which SS estimator site you are using, as some of them assume you are still earning W2 type income until retirement.
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Old 01-15-2020, 09:34 AM   #6
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Is anyone else having issues with the estimator? I keep getting this:

Quote:
Forbidden
Unfortunately, you do not have access to this service. Please check your url for errors and try again.
If you need immediate assistance: please contact us

EDIT: Yes, I'm logged in, and I disabled Firefox privacy protections for the ssa.gov site, etc.
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Old 01-15-2020, 10:02 AM   #7
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Firefox has been getting 403's for me on several sites when Chrome doesn't. You can try 'safe mode' (hamburger > help > restart with add ons disabled)
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Old 01-15-2020, 12:14 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by sengsational View Post
Firefox has been getting 403's for me on several sites when Chrome doesn't. You can try 'safe mode' (hamburger > help > restart with add ons disabled)
It happens on every browser and platform. I'm certain as I can be that it's a server side issue (which would include any account restrictions), not computer or browser related. I submitted a ticket, but considering the difficulties people have had actually signing up/starting benefits, I'm not holding out hope for a solution...or even a response.
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Old 01-15-2020, 12:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Cosmic Avenger View Post
Is anyone else having issues with the estimator? I keep getting this:




EDIT: Yes, I'm logged in, and I disabled Firefox privacy protections for the ssa.gov site, etc.
I recall having an issue a while back. I "think" the problem was that I WAS logged in. Try with out logging in to your account.
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Old 01-15-2020, 01:14 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by CardsFan View Post
I recall having an issue a while back. I "think" the problem was that I WAS logged in. Try with out logging in to your account.
That's it! Thank you!

WHY do they do that?? Ugh. Now I feel like I need to try to verify their numbers. But then, they do ask for your SSN, so I guess it's still based on your full pay records.

I'm not going to max out SS earnings, so retiring early could have a significant impact on my SSI. Not that I'm going to let that stop me!
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Old 01-15-2020, 01:17 PM   #11
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SS calculator question comes up a lot of this forum. I prefer the https://ssa.tools/ which is NOT on the official SS web site. To use this calculator, you copy and paste your SS history from the official site to ssa.tools, and the calculator runs in your web browser - no data is transmitted over the web.
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Old 01-15-2020, 01:44 PM   #12
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ss uses your best 40 years...so if you retire early and have 35 years little difference but if you don't have 40 years retire early ss could be very different than how they calc it assuming you will work to 67

sorry edited 40 to 35
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Old 01-15-2020, 01:57 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by OddGuy View Post
If I were to FIRE before that time, would the SS I eventually receive be considerably LESS than the amounts currently estimated?
That depends on how you define "considerably." It would probably be less.
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Old 01-15-2020, 02:00 PM   #14
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ss uses your best 40 years...so if you retire early and have 40 years little difference but if you don't have 40 years retire early ss could be very different than how they calc it assuming you will work to 67
Social Security actually uses your best 35 indexed earning years, not 40.

Social Security benefits are typically computed using "average indexed monthly earnings." This average summarizes up to 35 years of a worker's indexed earnings.

https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/COLA/Benefits.html#aime
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Old 01-15-2020, 02:08 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by ducky911 View Post
ss uses your best 40 years...so if you retire early and have 40 years little difference but if you don't have 40 years retire early ss could be very different than how they calc it assuming you will work to 67
That's why I wanted to use the benefits estimator, to check that my estimated SS income is correct in my projected retirement budget. I usually don't plug numbers to my estimates unless I have a very good basis for them, but I like to rerun them every so often, in case I made an error or other factors have changed. The benefits estimator lets you set a retirement age.
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Old 01-16-2020, 07:04 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Dtail View Post
You can use the site below whereby you can change the earnings estimates to be zero for X number of years before retirement.
The instructions are fairly straightforward.

https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/estimator.html
Thanks! I'd somehow overlooked that. The most useful aspect is the ability to change the age of retirement down to the month.

In my case, the numbers for early benefits are predicated on averaging $70,000 in taxable earnings from now to retirement, and while changing that number to $0 obviously reduces the estimates, they reach stasis once I add a bit of time.

Using my numbers, I can hit the same amount at 62 with $70k per year as I would with $0k per year until 63 and 1 month, and the number I currently have at 67 with $70k per year would be exactly the same if I waited until 68 years, 3 months at $0k per year.

Another version of "one more year", it appears!
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Old 01-16-2020, 12:44 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OddGuy View Post
... If I were to FIRE before that time, would the SS I eventually receive be considerably LESS than the amounts currently estimated?
I quit earning a salary in 2001. [so basically for the past 19 years]

My annual Social Security summary has been showing very steady numbers for the past ten years.

So even though I am no longer paying into Social Security, I do not think that my benefits will change when I finally do begin to take them.
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Old 01-21-2020, 04:42 AM   #18
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Follow up re: Social Security Retirement Estimator.
When I click on how they make the estimate, one of the things it says is that your actual amount may differ, due to annual cost-of-living increases.

So.... let's say my estimate is $3,000/month and I am 61 years old, and COLA will be 2%/year for the next 9 years (until I start taking SS at 70.) My assumption is that the best estimate of my monthly benefit at age 70 is $3,000/month + about 20% of $3,000, allowing for the additional 2%/year for 9 years, compounded.

Thus the best estimate for me when 2029 actually arrives would be $3,600/month. Is that how this works?
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Old 01-21-2020, 05:39 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by sakowitzm View Post
Follow up re: Social Security Retirement Estimator.
When I click on how they make the estimate, one of the things it says is that your actual amount may differ, due to annual cost-of-living increases.

So.... let's say my estimate is $3,000/month and I am 61 years old, and COLA will be 2%/year for the next 9 years (until I start taking SS at 70.) My assumption is that the best estimate of my monthly benefit at age 70 is $3,000/month + about 20% of $3,000, allowing for the additional 2%/year for 9 years, compounded.

Thus the best estimate for me when 2029 actually arrives would be $3,600/month. Is that how this works?
IIRC, any estimated annual COL increases are not built into the SS calculator.
Thus their estimate will always be on the low side until one actually reaches the benefit age.
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Old 01-21-2020, 07:18 AM   #20
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Thanks Dtail. That's what I thought i remembered, but these days trusting my memory is a very risky proposition. In my case, with 9 years to go, that's a significant increase.
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