Understanding Social Security: How These Online Tools Could Lead to a Benefits Boost

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Knowing when to claim your Social Security benefits can have a significant impact on your lifestyle in retirement. For instance, if you claim early and you could face a steep and permanent cut in monthly income.

Find: 15 Worst States To Live on Just a Social Security Check
See: 10 Reasons You Should Claim Social Security Early

It may seem a little daunting, but there are tools out there that can help you figure it all out and make the best decision. Here are four Social Security tools to use while determining when to claim and collect benefits, originally reported by CNBC Select.

The Social Security Administration Website

The SSA’s website provides several free calculators to help you determine when your full retirement age is and how your earnings before full retirement age could impact your benefit amount. There’s also a retirement estimator that calculates your monthly benefits from SSA data on your earnings history.

However, if you have a spouse or other sources of retirement income, then you may need to use other tools. 

Open Social Security

This free calculator accounts for multiple factors, including whether you have a spouse, the average lifespan of men versus women and the potential for benefits to be reduced in the future. This tool can also provide you with your yearly Social Security benefits and your cumulative earnings with a spouse over the course of retirement.

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AARP Social Security Calculator

AARP’s calculator tells you how much your monthly benefit is depending on when you choose to collect. It can also tell you how much of your living expenses (which is based on an average retiree’s monthly living expenses) your Social Security benefits will cover.

Two potential problems with this calculator are that it determines your monthly benefit based on your average annual salary, and it determines cumulative benefits based on if you collected at age 70.

MaxiFi Planner

This software can help you create a plan that allows you to have a standard of living that stays constant once you retire. It also tells you when to withdraw from your retirement accounts and when you and your spouse should file for Social Security benefits. However, this software isn’t free. The standard plan costs $109 for the first year and then $89 each year after that.

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About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.
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