# The age when you actually retire, vs. the age when you begin taking social security

#### pastoral

##### Dryer sheet wannabe
As I understand it, SS estimate amount for a future year is based on your past earnings and potential future earnings up to the day when you start claiming SS, as well as you age?

Suppose the estimated SS is:
age 62: \$1500
age 65: 2300
age 67: 2500
age 70: 3400

That's assuming you continued to work and earing similar salary until that age, correct?

My question is, if you retire at, say, 62, thus no longer having salary, will it make big, or small difference at what age you start taking SS (whether you take SS immediately at 62, or 63, or wait till 70)?

Another way to ask: Between the impact of (a) your continued salary between now and when claiming SS, and (b) the impact of just your age when claiming SS (without regard to salary)----which affects the SS amount more?

As I understand it, SS estimate amount for a future year is based on your past earnings and potential future earnings up to the day when you start claiming SS, as well as you age?

Suppose the estimated SS is:
age 62: \$1500
age 65: 2300
age 67: 2500
age 70: 3400

That's assuming you continued to work and earing similar salary until that age, correct?

My question is, if you retire at, say, 62, thus no longer having salary, will it make big, or small difference at what age you start taking SS (whether you take SS immediately at 62, or 63, or wait till 70)?

Another way to ask: Between the impact of (a) your continued salary between now and when claiming SS, and (b) the impact of just your age when claiming SS (without regard to salary)----which affects the SS amount more?
When you take it make a lot bigger difference than actually working those few years. So, waiting to take it for one year will make a much bigger difference than from working during that year. You can run some calculators on that.

https://ssa.tools/

https://opensocialsecurity.com/

https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/anypia/anypia.html

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^^^
I'm in a similar boat to what OP described. Retired early 60's, not yet taking SS. As GenXguy noted, by far the bigger impact is how long you wait to take SS, not how much more SS tax you contribute in working years. If you sign up for the SS website, it has an estimator tool that allows you to model the impact of both variables.

You can access your SS account and put in zeros for the years you aren't working and get a fairly accurate picture. For us adds up to a relatively small amount compared to if I was working. I retired at 60 and will take SS at 66 years 10 months, FRA, due to spousal benefit.

I believe that it does not include adding future earnings.

We stopped working the first time to travel when I was 47, then after 3 years went back to work and I retired for the second and last time at 57. I only had 24 years of substantial earnings as we emigrated to the USA in 1987 and lots of years with \$0 earnings. I took my SS at 69 and got more than the speculated \$3,400 speculated in the OP for 70. DW was a significantly lesser earner and took hers at 62.

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I was a high earner and retired at 61. I once calculated that if I'd worked to 86, I would have gotten an extra \$50/month in SS.

I was a high earner and retired at 61. I once calculated that if I'd worked to 86, I would have gotten an extra \$50/month in SS.

Isn't that an eye opener.

I FIRED at 51 with 33 good years paid into SS. I felt bad that I was short of the 35 years of earnings and even thought of going back to work to pay in 2 more years.

Thanks to this forum and the calculators shown above I plugged in what my benefit would be if I paid in those two missing years. \$19 a month difference.

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Your SS benefit depends a whole lot more on how old you are. If you stopped working in your 50’s and had 30+ years of substantial SS earnings, you should get a decent benefit as long as you paid into SS the whole time. WEP/GPO can really reduce your benefits and you should investigate further if you had a job where you didn’t pay into SS.

Thank you all for the great info and for sharing your own experience. Sounds good!

You can access your SS account and put in zeros for the years you aren't working and get a fairly accurate picture.

I believe that it does not include adding future earnings.

Thanks. I didn't know that. I just tried by clicking on the arrow at "Average Future Annual Salary", a box appeared below where one can enter any figure for future salary, including 0.

You can access your SS account and put in zeros for the years you aren't working and get a fairly accurate picture. For us adds up to a relatively small amount compared to if I was working. I retired at 60 and will take SS at 66 years 10 months, FRA, due to spousal benefit.
The ssa.gov site is easy if you want to estimate \$0 for all future years, but it is limited in defining an estimated income for a few future years and zero for other future years along with delaying when you take SS beyond that. A workaround that can get you close is to just estimate an average income of those years you delay taking SS, meaning average in the zero income years also. Although, the downloadable calculator from ssa.gov that I linked to above allows you to enter income info granularly per future year, it's more complicated, and I got some odd results with it last time.

I think this site makes it more straight forward, although you need to access ssa.gov to copy/paste earnings history. You can enter how many more years you will work, but it uses the same estimated income (that you specify) for each of those future years, although you could use an average if some years are expected to differ, as a workaround. And then you can enter a date to claim those benefits further delayed from the years worked.

https://ssa.tools/

Thanks. I didn't know that. I just tried by clicking on the arrow at "Average Future Annual Salary", a box appeared below where one can enter any figure for future salary, including 0.
Right, but it defaults to putting in an expected income. Online calculators normally expect you will keep working until you take benefits unless there's an option to specify otherwise. And that ssa.gov estimator doesn't allow you to enter a mix of future working and non-working years prior to taking SS. But you can use the "average" future income workaround I mentioned or even use the site I linked to.

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Thank you all for the great info and for sharing your own experience. Sounds good!

Thanks. I didn't know that. I just tried by clicking on the arrow at "Average Future Annual Salary", a box appeared below where one can enter any figure for future salary, including 0.

Just a heads up for future users; unless the UI has changed, I noticed that empty is not the same as putting in \$0. Almost got bit by that. If you leave it empty, it appears to use your last year's income for all subsequent years.

Admittedly, I should have done a deeper dive on SS options when I retired at 55 but even so I likely would've made the same choice to start SS at 62. Why? The men in my family tend to die early. My dad made it to 48, most of his brothers were gone by 60. I will be 74 in 4-months.

Just realized I started this thread in the wrong forum. Meant to start it in FIRE and MONEY forum.

Thanks Mod for moving it to the right forum.

I retired at 56 and will take SS in two years when I am 70.

I've met many people who think that when you stop working that you need to start SS... I suppose that many people do.

My high school friend started SS after his FRA but before he stopped working and double dipped for about 18 months.

You can access your SS account and put in zeros for the years you aren't working and get a fairly accurate picture. For us adds up to a relatively small amount compared to if I was working. I retired at 60 and will take SS at 66 years 10 months, FRA, due to spousal benefit.

As a couple of others have noted, this is what I do every year to see where we stand, started looking at every year around 50. For us it was a real eye opener, I'm not working more years just to get few more dollars in SS, started paying into SS at age 15, that's long enough.

I do encourage most people to create your SS login before someone else does it for you!

The megacorp that transferred me to the US enabled me to put 18 years of continuous contribution into SS before I retired at 53. I have 17 years of \$0 contribution but I will be starting SS when I turn 62. I would have loved to continue to contribute into SS but then retirement got in the way. I made enough to have PIA that is much higher than half of my spouse's PIA. He claimed at 70 as that will be financially beneficial if I outlive him.

I calculated that once I hit the 2nd bend point, each of my additional working years added about \$56ish to my PIA.

Right- once you've calculated your Average Indexed Monthly Wage, if you filed at FRA in 2024 you'd get

(a) 90 percent of the first \$1,174 of average indexed monthly earnings, plus
(b) 32 percent of average indexed monthly earnings over \$1,174 and through \$7,078, plus
(c) 15 percent of average indexed monthly earnings over \$7,078.

The benefit formula is deliberately weighted in favor of low earners. You do get a small benefit increase if adding more years to your work record replaces early, lower-earning years (after indexing) in the Average Indexed Monthly Wage calculation.

As a couple of others have noted, this is what I do every year to see where we stand, started looking at every year around 50. For us it was a real eye opener, I'm not working more years just to get few more dollars in SS, started paying into SS at age 15, that's long enough.

I do encourage most people to create your SS login before someone else does it for you!
Which calculator are you using that lets you specify your income for at least a couple different years and other future years that you can enter 0, and specify a later date to take SS? I know the downloadable detailed calculator allows that, but I don't see that option in the web based calculators/estimator at ssa.gov. One allows a separate entry for 2024, then it has a single entry for 2025 and beyond rather than letting you enter a different income for 2026 and 2027 for example, and zero income afterwards until taking benefits in 2030.
The benefit formula is deliberately weighted in favor of low earners. You do get a small benefit increase if adding more years to your work record replaces early, lower-earning years (after indexing) in the Average Indexed Monthly Wage calculation.
Right. I'm past the last bend, and the estimator shows I will get about \$1000/mo more by holding off on taking benefits for 5 years, but I would get less than \$100/mo more by working those 5 years at my continued income. That's less than \$20 extra per month SS benefit for each additional year worked.

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Which calculator are you using that lets you specify your income for at least a couple different years and other future years that you can enter 0, and specify a later date to take SS? I know the downloadable detailed calculator allows that, but I don't see that option in the web based calculators/estimator at ssa.gov. One allows a separate entry for 2024, then it has a single entry for 2025 and beyond rather than letting you enter a different income for 2026 and 2027 for example, and zero income afterwards until taking benefits in 2030.
Right. I'm past the last bend, and the estimator shows I will get about \$1000/mo more by holding off on taking benefits for 5 years, but I would get less than \$100/mo more by working those 5 years at my continued income. That's less than \$20 extra per month SS benefit for each additional year worked.

I log into my SS account and enter 0 for the earnings the following years, I don't think you can go out a couple of years with income then switch to 0. Maybe you can but all I'm looking for is where I stand today in today's dollars, if that makes sense.

I log into my SS account and enter 0 for the earnings the following years, I don't think you can go out a couple of years with income then switch to 0. Maybe you can but all I'm looking for is where I stand today in today's dollars, if that makes sense.
Thanks. Yes, the switch to 0 is what I do now since I'm retired, but a few years back, I wanted to be able to enter a few additional years of income and one partial year before retiring and even later taking SS. I used the downloadable detailed calculator at that time, which allowed that.

Thanks. Yes, the switch to 0 is what I do now since I'm retired, but a few years back, I wanted to be able to enter a few additional years of income and one partial year before retiring and even later taking SS. I used the downloadable detailed calculator at that time, which allowed that.

It asks one to enter the average annual salary, so if the salary for the 5 years between now and taking SS is, say, 0, 0, 0, 60000, 0, resp., I'd just enter the average 60000/5 = 12000.

I downloaded this, and when I opened it to try to fill out the form, there is a field asking for social security number, is that necessary?

It asks one to enter the average annual salary, so if the salary for the 5 years between now and taking SS is, say, 0, 0, 0, 60000, 0, resp., I'd just enter the average 60000/5 = 12000.
I mentioned that "average" workaround myself earlier in this thread and did use that in the past. I assume you saw that.
https://www.early-retirement.org/fo...aking-social-security-121558.html#post3072021
I guess you could say it's not really a workaround since it says "average". It does require some extra manual calculation, though.

I downloaded this, and when I opened it to try to fill out the form, there is a field asking for social security number, is that necessary?
I just made up a SSN because I didn't see a need to enter my real one. But for some reason, the last time I updated it and ran the numbers, it was giving me a significantly lower result than the web based estimators/calculators. That was about a year ago, so I stopped using it since I got more consistent numbers among the other calculators/estimators.

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I mentioned that "average" workaround myself earlier in this thread and did use that in the past. I assume you saw that.

I just made up a SSN because I didn't see a need to enter my real one. But for some reason, the last time I updated it and ran the numbers, it was giving me a significantly lower result than the web based estimators/calculators.
Thanks. I missed the first one. Good idea making up a SSN.

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