How would you explain a discrepancy among the retirement benefit calculators at SS.gov and with agents as well as my SS Statement?
The Online Calculator, Retirement Estimator as well as my SS Statement state one amount for my PIA while the Quick Calculator, Detailed Calculator and an agent at my local SS office state a different amount. The difference is about $84, which would be 2-3 weeks of food for me, so it matters.
I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out why this is the case, but I can find no answer. I would need to know my benefit amount before submitting my application. Is there a way to do that? That is, will I be able to stop the application if the benefit amount is too low for me?
Yes, if you apply for benefits and change your mind you can withdraw your application. However, you would have to withdraw your claim within 12 months of your initial month of entitlement, and you would be required to repay the benefits that you've already received (if any). Also, you are only allowed to withdraw a claim for Social Security retirement benefits once in your lifetime (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/withdrawal.html).
I can't give you a definite reason for the discrepant estimates you've received, but my guess is that the discrepancies are caused by different presumptions being used in the calculations. For example, your Social Security statement assumes that you will continue working and earning the same amount that you did in the most recent year of verified earnings up until the age of the estimate. In other words, if the statement shows an estimated amount that you would receive at age 70 for instance, the amount shown would be based in part on the assumption that your future earnings up until then would continue at the same pace as your most recent annual earnings. If a different source uses different presumptions, it would likely result in a different estimated benefit rate.
Our benefit calculator uses the exact same formula as does Social Security, so you may want to strongly consider using our software to get both an accurate benefit estimate of your benefit rate, and to compare your filing options in order to determine your best strategy for claiming benefits.