Eyeing That Check

Richard Connor

THE SOCIAL SECURITY Administration began rolling out a new, smaller annual statement on May 1. As reported in Think Advisor and other publications, a small percentage of online “my Social Security” account users, who aren’t currently receiving benefits, will get the new printed statement.

The new statement is two pages instead of four. One significant improvement is a graphic that shows what your estimated monthly benefit could be if you started taking benefits in any of the nine years between ages 62 and 70. The personalized amounts are displayed in a series of horizontal bars. Previously, the annual statement provided estimates for only three ages: 62, 67 and 70.

Even if you don’t receive the new statement, you can get the new estimates by creating a “my Social Security” account through the Social Security’s website. Once you’re signed in, you’ll see a tool labeled “plan for retirement.” The display defaults to show your current benefit estimate, your estimated benefit at full retirement age and your estimated benefit at age 70. The tool has a slide bar that allows you to pick a new retirement age, down to the month, and get a benefit estimate for that age.

As you try different ages, the site remembers each estimate you generated. When you’re done evaluating specific ages, click the “estimates table” link and the site will create a table of your selected estimates suitable for printing or saving.

If you’re married, another helpful feature provided by the website is an estimate of your Social Security spousal benefit. Select “include a spouse” on the top right of the graphic and input your spouse’s estimated benefit amount at full retirement age. The graphic then adds a line estimating your spousal benefit based on your spouse’s personal earnings record.

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