23 July 2008

SSA Offering: Retirement Estimator

Retirement calculators litter the web. The newest (quite possibly!) is published by Social Security Online. Called the Retirement Estimator, this tool estimates Social Security (SS) benefits only for people who are not yet collecting SS. The calculation is based on your data already in the system plus your entry of your last year's income or what you think your "last year" will be at the time you stop working. If you are a very young boomer (in your 40s), you may have difficulty projecting your salary 20 years out. If you are closer to the typical retirement ages (62 and 66), you can probably make a good guess and thereby produce a realistic estimate of future benefits.

Multiple scenarios. What I like best about the calculator is the ability to produce several different estimates. So, I entered stats for age 55, age 62, and age 66. Scenario building requires that you name a salary for each "stop" year, so precision is not the goal here. Making comparisons is.

Extra boomer woman issue: Playing around with the Retirement Estimator invites consideration of an issue for women who may end up drawing on a spouse's or ex-spouse's figure. (Complex enough for its own blog entry. On another day.) That information is not incorporated, so the Estimator provides just part of the picture for women.

One more issue: Using the Estimator requires that you enter your Social Security number in addition to name, birth year, and last year's salary. If you have a concern about entering such data, this benefit calculator is not for you. (You can find more generic versions around the web.)

Imagining the research potential: On the topic of data, I found myself imagining what the Retirement Estimator produces for the Social Security Administration. I doubt that SSA is tracking my personal "what if" scenarios, but I do wonder if a more general data set is being generated. Wouldn't it be neat to know if Americans are seeking estimates for 5 years from now? Or maybe 10 years? Or even more?

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

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