Ask Larry

How Can I Know With Certainty That My Benefit Amount Is Correct?

I have two questions regarding Social Security that I hope you may be able to clarify:
1. How can I know with certainty that my ultimate Social Security personal benefit amount is correct, after having received an incorrect amount over the past 20 months and having been informed by the SSA on three occasions that my benefit amount was correct? My benefit is now being reviewed for final determination, but I would like to know how I can check the final amount for accuracy. (Please see below for relevant background.)

2. I waited till age 70 to take my personal benefit. From age 66 to 70 I received a spousal benefit under my husband’s Social Security. Does the amount of my personal benefit increase by 8% per year after my full retirement age (66) to age 70, despite having received the spousal benefit?

Relevant background:
When I applied to receive Social Security under my personal benefit at age 70 (after having received spousal benefits for four years), I was awarded an amount that appeared to be inaccurate (too high). I expected to receive a correction from Social Security, but having received none after a few months, I personally visited my local Social Security office, explained my concern, and asked that my record be reviewed. After checking my earnings record and other documents in their system, the Social Security official told me that my benefit was correct.
Several months later, having heard nothing further, I wrote a letter to the central Social Security office, again explaining my concern that the benefit I was receiving was wrong. I received written confirmation that my benefit was correct. Finally, after almost two years of receiving my (inaccurate) personal benefit, I received a call from a very helpful Social Security official, who indicated that he had reviewed my record and could immediately see that my benefit was inaccurate (considerably too high) and that Social Security, not I, had made the error. The matter is being reviewed again by my local SSA office, and I was told that it will take at least six to eight weeks to make a final determination.
Thank you very much for any clarification you may be able to provide.

Hi. You could try calculating your benefit rate by hand, but I should advise you that the benefit calculation formula is quite complex. If you want to try, though, the steps that you must follow to calculate your correct benefit rate are explained in the following section of Social Security's operations manual:

Alternatively, there are various Social Security benefit calculators advertised on the internet, but we believe that the benefit calculator used in our software ( is 100% accurate. You may want to consider using our software to make sure that you end up receiving your correct benefit rate.

Regarding your second question, the answer is absolutely yes. As long as you're insured for Social Security retirement benefits and you don't claim those benefits, you are credited with delayed retirement credits (DRC) from your full retirement age (FRA) until age 70 even if you were born prior to January 2 1954 and you collected spousal benefits during those years. DRCs amount to 2/3rds of 1% per month, or 8% per year.

Best, Jerry

Feb 18 2021 - 12:19pm
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