Determining How Much You’ve Earned
Reading your personal Social Security statement
Using an online calculator to estimate your benefits
You shouldn’t — and don’t need to — wait until you apply for Social Security benefits to find out what you have coming. You have several ways to check on the amount you’ve earned so far and where you’re headed if you keep it up. An estimate of benefits gives you a glimpse at a key building block of income you’ll depend on in retirement.
One tool is your personalized Social Security statement, accessible online at
www.ssa.gov/myaccount or through periodic mailings from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Beyond that, the SSA and others, including AARP, offer tools you can use online, free of charge, to get a ballpark idea of benefits. You can even plug in different variables to see how your benefits would be affected by changes in earnings or different retirement dates.
In this chapter, I cover these basic options and how you can use them to cast light on the future.