How to Figure Retirement Income for Social Security

by Kimberlee Leonard ; Updated July 27, 2017

Social Security retirement income benefits provide income based on the number of years you paid into the Social Security system and how much you have earned. You may elect payments starting at age 62, but full retirement benefits begin at 65 to 67, based on your birth year as of the 2010 Social Security regulations. Calculating your projected Social Security income helps determine retirement budgets and planning for other retirement income savings if necessary.

Step 1

Call the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 or visit the website at Ask to speak with someone regarding "estimating benefits" or go to the "benefits calculator" on the website.

Step 2

Provide your Social Security number as required by the phone representative or the website calculator. The SSA has access to your employment history regarding the number of years paid into Social Security and the projected income at early and full retirement ages.

Step 3

Request both early and full retirement income ages. Keep in mind that the estimates do make certain assumptions regarding inflation, how many more years you anticipate working and the salary you will earn.


  • For those born prior to 1954, full retirement is age 66. The full benefits age goes up by two months for each year, so for someone born in 1958, you must be 66 and 8 months to receive full retirement benefits. Those born in 1960 and later receive full benefits at age 67.

    Speak with a financial adviser regarding your anticipated Social Security income to see how much supplemental income you may need from 401k and IRA plans. The sooner you start saving and investing to meet your retirement goals, the better your chances are of meeting them.

    The SSA sends an annual letter estimating benefits based on your current work history credits.

About the Author

With more than 15 years of professional writing experience, Kimberlee finds it fun to take technical mumbo-jumbo and make it fun! Her first career was in financial services and insurance.

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