Social Security calculators that can help you decide when to claim

Can you recommend any good resources that can help my wife and I determine the best claim ages to maximize our Social Security retirement benefits?

just turned 62

Dear 62,

Deciding when to start collecting your Social Security benefits is one of the most complicated and important decisions in retirement. The difference between a good and a bad decision could cost you and your wife tens of thousands of dollars in your retirement, so doing your due diligence now is a very smart move.

Factors to Consider
As you may already know, you can apply for Social Security anytime between age 62 and 70, but each year of waiting increases your benefits by 5-8%. However, there are other factors you need to consider to help you make a good decision, such as your health and family longevity, whether you plan to work in retirement, and spousal and survivor.

To help you weigh your claims strategies, you should know that Social Security Administration claims specialists are not trained or authorized to give you personal advice on when you should start collecting your benefits. They can only provide you with information about how the system works under different circumstances. For advice, you will have to turn to other sources.

Online tools
Your first step for advice on Social Security claim strategy is to go to to get your personalized statement that estimates your retirement benefits at age 62-70. These estimates are based on your annual income which is also listed. on your report.

Once you’ve gotten your estimates for you and your wife, you can turn to a number of online social security policy calculators to compare your options so you can make an informed decision.

The best one that’s completely free to use is Open Social Security (, which runs the calculations for every possible claim age (or, if you’re married, every possible combination of claim ages) and reports, telling you which strategy is believed to provide the most total spendable dollars over your lifetime.

But if you want a deeper analysis, consider paid calculators like Maximize My Social Security ( or Social Security Solutions ( These two tools, which are especially useful for married couples as well as divorced or widowed individuals, will run what-if scenarios based on your situation and show how different deposit strategies affect total payout over the same period.

Maximize My Social Security’s web-based service costs $40 per year for a household, while Social Security Solutions offers several levels of personalized online telephone counseling ranging from $20 to $250.

In-person advice
You may also be able to get help through a financial planner. Look for someone who is a fee-paying Certified Financial Planner (CFP) who bills on an hourly basis and has experience analyzing Social Security.

To find someone, use the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors’ online directory at, or try the Garrett Planning Network (, which is a network of paid advisors who charge between $150 and $300. $ per hour.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, PO Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit Jim Miller is an NBC Today contributor and author of “The Savvy Senior.”

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