The Best Social Security Calculator There Is

Don’t just guess how much Social Security will help you in retirement. In just minutes, this calculator will give you an accurate estimate.

Aug 16, 2014 at 7:00AM

You shouldn't be guessing whether you'll be able to retire with enough income to get by. So let me show you how you can quickly estimate how much Social Security money you're going to get each month when you finally decide to trade in your business suit for khaki shorts and a Hawaiian shirt.

These calculators are your friend

I recently chatted with Jean Setzfand, the vice president of financial security at AARP and one of the top Social Security experts out there. As you'll see in the video below, she says the calculators on both the AARP website and the official Social Security site are top-notch, and she gives the nod to the latter because it can actually pull your entire earnings history to better estimate your benefits.

I tried out both calculators. Here's a quick summary of each.

1. The Social Security Administration website indeed has the best calculator out there, because it can give you the most accurate picture of your monthly Social Security income when you retire. Once you've signed in, the calculator automatically pulls your earnings history -- and believe me, it's extremely interesting to see your entire life's earnings summarized year by year.

The calculator then shows your estimated Social Security monthly payments, assuming you choose one of three different ages to begin taking benefits:

  • Full retirement age -- between 65 and 67, depending on your date of birth
  • Age 70 -- the latest age you can begin taking benefits
  • Early retirement age -- age 62, the earliest age you can begin taking benefits

You can also view and print out your official, full statement from the Social Security Administration.

The biggest barrier to getting this info is simply creating your account; the SSA needs to know you are really you, after all. But it will only take you about five minutes, so just do it already.

2. The AARP Social Security website is also great because it includes some extra features. Once you input your information, you'll see an extremely easy-to-read bar graph showing your estimated monthly payouts for each year you could begin taking benefits, from age 62 to 70. You'll also be presented with neatly summarized boxes explaining how to maximize your monthly benefits, depending on your marital status. The calculator also helps you estimate your living expenses in retirement to see just how much (or how little) Social Security will cover.

Spending just a little time on each of these two websites is a real eye-opener. I recommend sitting down tonight with your spouse, significant other, or pet goldfish and giving both calculators a try. Doing so may very well change how -- and how much -- you save, beginning tomorrow.

AARP's Jean Setzfand on calculators and the best age to retire

How to get even more income during retirement
Social Security plays a key role in your financial security, but it's not the only way to boost your retirement income. In our brand-new free report, our retirement experts give their insight on a simple strategy to take advantage of a little-known IRS rule that can help ensure a more comfortable retirement for you and your family. Click here to get your copy today.


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4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

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This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

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The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

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That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

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David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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