Ask Larry

Why Does The Benefit Estimate I Received From Social Security Appear Too High?

My SS statement says I will receive $3571/month in benefits if I wait to draw SS when I reach 70. I am just turning 61 and have stopped working, so I have zero earned income. I maxed out my SS taxes for 27 of my 35 highest earnings years. I verified the benefit quoted on my statement via the online SS benefits estimator where it uses your personal information to compute the benefit. I enter ZERO for future earnings. I also downloaded the native Windows app available from the SS site and it also computes $3571 as my benefit when I manually enter all my historic wages. That app computes the maximum monthly benefit to be $3721. If I use the Quick Calculator and enter all my earnings manually, it computes a smaller benefit around $200/month less.

The maximum 2017 benefit has been widely stated in the press to be $3,538/month.

Do you have any explanation why my the benefit estimate I received in the mail from SS appears to be too high? SS has not responded to my questions. The estimate calculated by the Quick Calculator appears to be more accurate. However, SS recommends one uses their calculator that references one's actual earnings record to compute a benefit estimate.


The Social Security benefit statements assume future year earnings at a rate equal to the most recent posted year. So, the estimate that you received may be based in part on future earnings that will not be realized, thus making the estimate too high.

Also, until the year you turn age 62, the indexing rate that will eventually be used to compute your benefit rate cannot be precisely determined ( Thus, any benefit estimate for you at this point can only be approximated.

You may want to consider using the maximization software available on this website to in order to obtain the most accurate possible estimate of your future benefit rate, as well as to determine your best filing strategy.

Best, Jerry

Sep 15 2017 - 9:16am
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