Don't Claim Without Trying a Social Security Calculator First

Want to get the most income you can when you retire? A good Social Security calculator can help you get the highest level of benefits possible. These tools give you customized claiming strategies. Many of them you might not have known about.

The Social Security Administration has one of these tools on its website. But it doesn't go through all the options you have or show you which claiming choices will result in you having more money to use after you retire.

Others do all that and more. Some are free and others charge a modest fee. Learn which one is right for you.

AARP's Social Security Benefits Calculator

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AARP offers a free calculator that is easy to use. It shows how earnings from work can reduce your benefits if you claim before you reach full retirement age. It also gives you a summary of the claiming strategies you can follow.

One major downside is that, while you can access the summary, you can't dig into the data behind it. That could frustrate you if you want to make informed choices about all your options.

The site does offer extra advice in the form of links to some hot topic articles.

This calculator can be a good starting point for planning your retirement. It may not be the best way to decide on a good action plan. But it is visible and easy to access. It's also offered by an organization that is widely known and trusted.

In many ways, you get what you pay for with these tools. You might prefer to pay for a benefits calculator to make sure you find out about all the options you have. On the other hand, a free tool might be just what you're looking for if you want some simple advice spelled out clearly.

Maximize My Social Security

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Maximize My Social Security covers just about any Social Security claiming scenario you might end up with. This includes things like:

  • Child benefits for parents
  • Divorce
  • Whether your spouse is getting benefits
  • Survivor benefits after a spouse's death

This tool also accounts for the windfall elimination provision and government pension offset. This will affect you if you get a pension from an employer who didn't withhold Social Security tax from your earnings. State employees, for example, may find this helpful.

Maximize My Social Security also provides links to topics and news about retirement. These come from many different sources.

This calculator costs $40 for a yearly household license.

Make sure you have your personal information ready to go when you first use this one. It asks that you input both your past and projected earnings. You can get this from your online or paper Social Security statement.

Social Security Income Planner

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The Social Security Income Planner lets you look at several pre-selected claiming strategies. You can also input your own plan to see how it stacks up against other options.

This is a nice touch if you like doing things your own way. It offers different models depending on your personal circumstances, such as whether you're single, married, widowed, or divorced. It also has a calculation for government pension offset.

Once you input your data and choose your options, you'll receive a detailed report. It will provide tables so you can compare your choices month-by-month or year-by-year. This can give you a good sense of both the short and long-term outcome of each claiming strategy.

This calculator charges a fee of $4.99 for a single user. You can also get a yearly subscription of $49.99 to create profiles for as many people as you want.

Social Security Timing

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Covisum's Social Security Timing calculator offers strong customer support. It also has rapid updates, which makes sure that you are getting the most accurate data.

For example, there were changes to Social Security laws in 2015. The software was quickly updated to take these changes into account.

Other features include a break-even chart and the option to choose daily, weekly, or monthly updates from the blog. This can help you keep up with changes to Social Security law, as well as understand the different choices you have to choose from.

Only financial advisors can use the full version of this calculator. If you are not a professional, you can leave a message on the site asking for personal help.

You'll find this software helpful if you're in the finance business. Social Security Timing offers a 10-day free trial, followed by a $49.99 monthly cost. The site provides a free demo to help you decide if the program is what you need before you commit.