Estimating Your Social Security Benefits

Estimating your Social Security benefits is particularly important when you are planning for retirement, although you may be interested in estimating survivor benefits or disability benefits as well. When planning for retirement, you should neither overlook nor overstate the value of your Social Security benefits. Predicting the future of Social Security is difficult, because to keep the system solvent, some changes must be made to it.

The younger and wealthier you are, the more likely that these changes will affect you. But even if you retire in the next few years, remember that Social Security was never meant to be the sole source of income for retirees. As President Dwight D. Eisenhower said: "The system is not intended as a substitute for private savings, pension plans, and insurance protection. It is, rather, intended as the foundation upon which these other forms of protection can be soundly built." Estimating your Social Security benefits now will not only help you plan an effective long-term retirement strategy, but it can also help you understand what benefits might protect your family if you were to die or become disabled.

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