Ask Larry

Are Only The Earnings That I Had Up Until Full Retirement Age Used To Calculate My Benefit Rate?

I have always been bothered because I don't believe my 4 highest years of earnings (from the time I was 67 until I retired at 70) were calculated into my final retirement benefits. When I would review each year what my projected benefit amount would be, I still hadn't earned my four highest salaries. And the amount that was projected before my highest earnings were paid into SSA, was what I eventually received. I continue to read that a person's benefit amount is based on their highest earnings but yet mine is not. Are the earnings only based until full retirement AGE is met or are the earnings in fact based on highest earnings? Thank you for answering this question that has bothered my now for years.

Hi. No, not necessarily. Earnings at any age can be used to calculate your Social Security retirement benefit rate, but only your highest 35 years of Social Security covered wage-indexed earnings are used in the calculation. So, additional years of earnings only increase a person's benefit rate if they're higher than one or more of the 35 highest years of wage-indexed earnings currently being used to calculate the person's benefit rate. Wage-indexing is explained on the following Social Security website:

Benefit recalculations to include additional years of higher earnings are done automatically by Social Security, but if you think that your recent earnings were high enough to increase your benefit rate then you can submit a written and signed request to Social Security asking them to manually recompute your benefit rate.

Best, Jerry

Aug 28 2022 - 6:41pm
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