10 Replies Latest reply on May 18, 2010 8:06 AM by TomB

    SS Benefits Estimates (Non-Standard)

    CraigS

      A portion of my work history was not covered by Social Security (an employee of a state with exempt status); consequently, the usual SS benefits estimators (including the annual SS statement) do not apply (because of 'WEP' legislation enacted in early 1980's).  In planning for retirement, has anyone had experience with using the (downloadable) "AnyPIA" calculator provided by SS.  Is it reliable/accurate; are there any special features or pitfalls that one needs to be aware of when using it; etc?     [ I would like to be able to generate, at my convenience, a reasonably accurate estimate of my future SS benefit amount as I approach retirement, but taking into account such things as rates of inflation, COLA's (announced or projected), salary changes, etc. - ie., I do not want to keep requesting revised/updated estimates from SS; but rather want to be able to generate these on my own.]     Any info or your experiences appreciated.

        • Re: SS Benefits Estimates (Non-Standard)
          TryingHarder
          Ditto. I hope there is someone who knows about this.
            • Re: SS Benefits Estimates (Non-Standard)
              Sharon

              Being one of those out there who lost half or more of their retirement in the stock disaster, I apreciate TIAA-CREF and wish I'd put more in retirement 20 years ago!

              Anyway, I check and recalculate what I think we will live on for the future with:  moneycentral.msn.com/retire/planner.aspx

              I'm not sure how accurate it is with Social Security, but I just write in the extra that we will be earning. It does give a good ball park figure of how long your assets will survive, especially with the terrible interest rates of the present and the losses in the stock market.   Good luck.

              • Re: SS Benefits Estimates (Non-Standard)
                LindaWoodstock
                I apologize if someone has already posed this question but:  is there any way to maximize the Soc Sec system and work it to one's advantage by claiming benefits at age 63 (my husband's current) age.  He is still working at a position that has terrific benefits, a good salary but also a pension.  Then when he retires at full retirement age, 66, reapply and naturally benefits will be recalculated.  I have read several articles of people taking their benefits, banking it & earning interest, then reapplying at an older age, paying back what they had banked over several years, and ultimately arriving at a higher monthly benefit.  Having said that, does anyone know if this works while you are still working at a good job?  Secondly, I will likely retire at age 62, assuming the stock market doesn't crash again, but I also have a pension so the WEP does apply to us but I still don't understand fully the GPO provision that will kick in should my husband precede me in death.  I know these are complicated questions and matters, but I'm not sure that I can gain this type of advice from an SSA advisor, i.e., "how to work their system to our advantage" as I've discovered uneven knowlege among the different SSA advisors we have spoken with.  Does anyone know of someone outside the SSA who is an experrt on utilizing these benefits?  Yes, we have a CFP through USAA as my husband qualifies with previous military duty.  We've been concentrating on our asset allocation, will/living trust, so I have not yet posed these complicated questions to the CFP.  Thank you.
                  • Re: SS Benefits Estimates (Non-Standard)
                    thatsfantastic
                    Your USAA CFP would be a good one for this question, but I do know that if you are earning much money while you take Social Security benefits before age 65, you get hammered with taxes. The social security site says if you take benefits before full retirement age and earn more than $14,160 from a job, then for every $2 you earn over the limit, $1 is withheld from benefits. $14K is not that much to be earning from a job, and a 50% tax is pretty steep, so there isn't much advantage to taking early benefits or an easy way to game the system if you are still working in your early 60s.
                      • Re: SS Benefits Estimates (Non-Standard)
                        LindaWoodstock
                        Thanks for your response.  I have read such conflicting information, from Kiplinger's, Consumer Reports Money Advisor, Money magazine that also includes the "do over" featture.  You can't really count on getting advice from SSA b/c of the inadequate and uneven training among the customer service reps.  I think you're right about asking USAA but again, they probably won't be the experts on SSA either.  Thanks again.
                      • Re: SS Benefits Estimates (Non-Standard)
                        TomB

                        Why not go to the official source of the information you are seeking, rather than rely on "non-SSA" advice?

                        www.socialsecurity.gov

                         

                    • Re: SS Benefits Estimates (Non-Standard)
                      AnnaLee

                      I use the program all the time and love it. I have run some WEP calculations but have never had an official estimate from the social security agency so I have never know whether I was doing it right. There aren't many bells and whistles. It asks for the numbers off your social security statement, some personal data, and your non-covered pension amount. I think (but can't guarantee) that if you can reproduce your SS statement (get one if you don't have it), you will be ok by just adding the non-covered pension information. The calculations are better as you get closer to retirement. The help file is good but not perfect.

                      Can't you get your SS office to do this estimate for you?

                      • Re: SS Benefits Estimates (Non-Standard)
                        AnnaLee
                        I didn't address COLA. You can affect this somewhat in two areas - the choice of forward projections while working (or the input of these using your own experience with your job) and by the choice of assumption from the current Trustees report (the assumptions that the acutaries make when they report on the health of the system over the future). It's quite flexible. It defaults to the intermediate projection which is the one that is usually talked about but you can use the high and low projection assumptions which shows the worst and best case. The other setting is to use the assumptions that were used for your SS Statement. I still would advise getting one (not repeated) statements to compare your results to using the SS Statement settings just to make sure you are in the ball park before you start changing the COLAs etc.
                        • Re: SS Benefits Estimates (Non-Standard)
                          TomB
                          You can get an estimate as though you were not covered by the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) on www.socialsecurity.gov.
                          There is a wealth of information on all aspects of Social Security there.
                          • Re: SS Benefits Estimates (Non-Standard)
                            TomB
                            I should mention that you can gain insight into the formula by studying the page: Link1 and Link2 

                            with the pages it links you to.