Ask Larry

Is The Fact That I Haven't Been Able To Work Much This Year Reducing My PIA?

Hello, I turned 62 in January of 2022, my PIA amount according to my SSA statement dated August 2022, is $2240. My understanding is I will qualify for the COLA regardless if I apply for benefits or not. Thanks so much!
Questions: (1)due to health reasons, I haven't been able to work much this year, is this situation reducing my PIA?
(2) if I apply for benefits at age 64 what would be my benefit amount assuming a COLA 2023 increase of 8-9 % ?
(3) my spouse has applied for SSDI benefits and has her own 35 plus year work history, she's 60 years old now, Question: how will her situation affect my SS benefits? Is it best to wait for her claim to be settled before I start drawing benefits? It should be soon we were told? Sorry for the complicated questions!

Hi. You're correct that you'll receive credit for the upcoming Social Security cost of living (COLA) increase no matter when you apply for benefits. Everyone who was born prior to January 2 1961 will receive credit for the next COLA increase.

I'll address your questions in order. Your Social Security retirement benefit rate will be calculated based on an average of your highest 35 years of Social Security covered wage-indexed earnings. If your earnings in 2022 aren't among your highest 35 years of wage-indexed earnings, then that year won't be used in the benefit calculation. But, if your 2022 earnings are higher than at least one of your previous highest 35 years of wage-indexed earnings, then the more you earn in 2022 the more you could increase your eventual benefit rate. So in other words, you can't reduce your primary insurance amount (PIA) with a low year of earnings, but a low earnings year may not result in much if any of an increase in your PIA.

I can't give you a reliable estimate of your age 64 benefit rate without knowing your entire Social Security earnings history, and even then your actual future rate would depend in part on future COLAs. I can tell you, though, that since your full retirement age (FRA) is 67, if you start drawing benefits effective with the month you turn 64 your benefit rate will amount to 80% of your primary insurance amount (PIA). A person's PIA is equal to their Social Security retirement benefit rate if they start drawing their benefits at full retirement age (FRA).

I don't know of any reason why the outcome of your wife's claim for Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits would affect your decision on when to apply for your benefits. It sounds like you should strongly consider using our software ( to fully analyze all of your various options so that you can determine your best strategy for maximizing your benefits. The software includes a Social Security benefit calculator that can give you an accurate estimate of your current and future benefit rates.

Best, Jerry

Oct 8 2022 - 1:07pm
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