January 18, 2022

Social Security: answers from the experts | lifestyles

You may need Social Security when you least expect it and we’re here to make sure our information is always accessible to you. Whether you’re planning your retirement years in advance or considering applying today, you probably have questions.

Our FAQ webpage at: faq.ssa.gov has answers to your questions about our programs and services. We’ve placed our frequently asked questions at the top of the page so you can quickly find answers to the most frequently asked questions, such as:

• What should I do if I receive a call from someone claiming to be a Social Security employee?

• How do I change or correct my name on my social security card?

• How do I request a new or replacement BSN card?

• How can I get a Social Security Statement with an overview of my income and an estimate of my future benefits?

You can also browse topics such as:

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We also have a publishing library on www.ssa.gov/pubs with information on many topics. And we offer every publication in text, audio and downloadable formats.

Q: I’m trying to figure out the best time to retire based on my future earnings. How can I calculate my own estimate of the pension benefit?

A: We recommend that you use our Pension Estimator at: www.ssa.gov/estimator. Our Pension Estimator makes estimates based on your actual Social Security income, so it’s a personalized, instant view of your future estimated benefit. You can also use it to test different retirement scenarios based on the age at which you decide to start taking benefits. For example, you can find out your estimated monthly payments if you retire at 62, 70, or another age. Try it now on www.ssa.gov/estimator.

Q: My cousin and I are both retired and on Social Security. We have worked for the same employer for years, but he receives a higher benefit. Why is that?

A: Your payments are based on your earnings throughout your life. Unless you are both the same age, started and stopped working on the exact same dates, and earn the same amount every year of your career, you will not receive the same benefits as your cousin. Social Security benefits are based on many years of income – generally your highest 35 years. For more information on Social Security retirement benefits, visit: www.ssa.gov/benefits.

This column was prepared by the Social Security Administration. For quick answers to specific Social Security questions, contact Social Security toll-free at 800-772-1213 or visit www.socialsecurity.gov.

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