Estimate your social security benefits with the Retirement Estimator

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The Social Security Administration has a new tool to help people estimate how much they'll receive in Social Security Benefits once they retire. The Retirement Estimator gives you estimates for early retirement, full retirement age, and age 70. The tool is okay, but obviously, the further from retirement you are, the less accurate the estimate will probably be.

In order to use this tool, you'll have to include your full name, date of birth, Social Security number, and mother's maiden name. I was concerned about how identity thieves could exploit the system, since anyone could pretend to be you. Thankfully, SSA did put a protection in place: It only offers estimates of your retirement benefits and doesn't show the earnings history that was used to calculate the benefits.

I'm not counting on getting any Social Security benefits once I retire. It's clear that the current system can't be sustained as the Baby Boomers retire, and a revamp of it will likely leave people like me paying in more over my work life and receiving nothing once I retire. But if you're nearing retirement age, it's a nice tool to help you find out how much you'll be getting on a monthly basis.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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