Jonathan J. Higuera

Social Security (check)

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If you’ve ever wondered how big (or small) your Social Security check will be once you retire, the Social Security Administration is trying to make it easier for you to calculate. Last May, it released an online version of the Social Security statement. It can be found at socialsecurity.gov. Just scroll down the left-hand side of the page to the “estimate your retirement benefits” button and click.

The retirement planning tool includes your annual income since you started paying into Social Security (up to the Social Security limit); a calculation of how much Social Security you’ll be eligible for when you reach retirement at 62, 66/67 and 70; how much money you and your dependents qualify for if you are disabled; and how much your spouse and family would be eligible for if you died.

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The information has been available online for several months as part of a soft launch. Now that it is officially released, the security is better, so you’ll need to be prepared to sign up. Besides your Social Security number and date of birth, you’ll have to come up with a complex log-in name and password.

One great part of the new tool is that your Social Security number will not be found anywhere on it. And you can completely block electronic access to the page altogether, opting instead to get the information via U.S. mail.

This writer enjoyed plugging some of those numbers into an inflation calculator and was surprised to see that his starting weekly salary of $295 in 1986 was equivalent to $609 a week today. It sure didn’t feel like that much money at the time.

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