In the United States, Social Security refers to the federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program. The original Social Security Act (1935) and the current version of the Act, as amended encompass several social welfare and social insurance programs. The largest component of OASDI is the payment of retirement benefits. Throughout a worker's career, the Social Security Administration keeps track of his or her earnings. The amount of the monthly benefit to which the worker is entitled depends upon that earnings record and upon the age at which the retiree chooses to begin receiving benefits. For the entire history of Social Security, benefits have been paid almost entirely by using revenue from payroll taxes. This is why Social Security is referred to as a pay-as-you-go system. Around 2017, payroll tax revenue is projected to be insufficient to cover Social Security benefits and the system will begin to withdraw money from the Social Security Trust Fund.
"Bear in mind that once you retire not only will your income decrease but so will some of your expenses."
The U.S. department of Social Security benefit provides a number of online calculators designed to calculate your benefit payments.
Your Social Security benefit rates can be affected by a number of different factors. If you already have a benefit estimate, you can use the charts and calculators listed to find out how different retirement dates and situations will affect your benefits.
Your Social Security benefits are the foundation on which you can build a secure retirement. Savings and pensions also are key components of your retirement plan. Most financial advisers say you'll need about 70 - 75 percent of your pre-retirement earnings to comfortably maintain your pre-retirement standard of living. They recommend that you prepare for the future with a combination of Social Security, private pensions and personal savings.
Bear in mind that once you retire not only will your income decrease but so will some of your expenses. Your children will not be living at home anymore, your mortgage will be paid off, you won't have work related expenses, and so on. As a general rule it is assumed that you will need about 75% of your current income at retirement for a comfortable lifestyle.
Note: The current life expectancy for Americans is about 75 years for men and 80 years for women.
1. Disability Planner
The Social Security disability planner will explain benefits available, how you can qualify, and who can receive benefits on your earnings record. It will also explain how to apply for the benefits and what happens when your application is approved.
2. Social Security Benefit Calculator
This calculator allows you to estimate your Social Security benefit. However, for the most accurate estimates, use either the:
a) Detailed Calculator - The Detailed Calculator has many features which are not necessary for normal retirement benefit estimates. If you do not require these features, you should try using the above calculator first, as it is much easier to use.
b) The Retirement Estimator - The Retirement Estimator gives estimates based on your actual Social Security earnings record. You can use the Retirement Estimator if you have enough Social Security credits at this time to qualify for benefits and you are not:
(i) Currently receiving benefits on your own Social Security record;
(ii) Waiting for a decision about your application for benefits or Medicare;
(iii) Age 62 or older and receiving benefits on another Social Security record; or
(iv) Eligible for a Pension Based on Work Not Covered By Social Security.
3. Retirement Earnings Test Calculator
If you are currently working and are eligible for retirement or survivors benefits this year, you can learn how your earnings may affect your benefit payments with the Earnings Limit Calculator.
4. If you want to find out how much retiring early reduces your monthly benefit as a wage earner or spouse, use the Retirement Age Calculator.
Social Security Adult Disability Report
5. The Online Adult Disability and Work History Report has seven sections which include: Overview, Identification, Medical, Work and Education, Remarks, Review, and Submission. In each section, Social Security will give you detailed instructions and examples to guide you through the process.
6. Survivors Benefits
When you die, members of your family could be eligible for benefits based on your earnings. Planning For Your Survivors explains how you earn benefits and who qualifies for them.
7. Apply for Social Security Benefits Online
Apply for Social Security retirement, disability or spouse's benefits OR apply for just Medicare benefits - Apply for Social Security Benefits Online.