Social Security Benefit Calculator Description

Summary description

The Office of the Chief Actuary, Social Security Administration, produces a Social Security Benefit Calculator. It produces the Social Security benefit for an old-age, survivor, or disability claim, given the characteristics of a particular worker (such as birth date, past earnings, and type of benefit). It also produces the "primary insurance amount" (PIA), "maximum family benefit", the actuarial reduction or increment factor (for early or delayed retirement), and the monthly benefit amount (MBA).

Online calculator

The Detailed Calculator is a comprehensive benefit calculator which is designed to compute historical benefits as well as estimate future benefits. It is somewhat unwieldy and can be difficult to use. If you are estimating a future retirement benefit, you may wish to use our Online Calculator first because it is much easier to use.

Detailed description

There are two versions of the interactive calculator: one works on IBM PC's and compatibles running recent versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system, including Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10. It is possible that it may work on older versions of Windows, but we have not been able to confirm this ourselves. The other version runs under older versions of the Mac OS. The benefit can be computed for either a new entitlement or a recomputation after initial entitlement. Several pages of output are printed in the application window, with summary results on the first page. Later pages display details of the benefit computation.

The calculator can produce a benefit for any historical case from the first Social Security benefit paid (1940). It can also produce a projected benefit, based on standard or user-specified assumptions, through 2095.

Although we have tried to be as accurate as possible, this is not the same calculator as is used for official Social Security calculations and it may produce results that differ from an official calculation. In particular, for primary benefits, we have made approximations for pre-1965 benefits and for the frozen minimum PIA, and we only partially take account of disability non-exclusion computations and the disability guarantee computation. In addition, the calculator is not set up to estimate dependent or survivor benefits where the dependent or survivor also receives benefits based on their own record, or survivor benefits where the benefit is affected by the worker's retired worker benefit prior to death. Based on experience to date, this calculator matches the official calculations very well, with most differences due to late posting of earnings to the earnings record, or different assumptions for projected benefits.

The 2017.2 version, which takes all amendments to the law, and automatic adjustments, through 2016 into account, is now available at this web site. It updates the 2017.1 version by updating the projected benefit increases and average wage increases with the assumptions from the 2017 Trustees Report.

Special note for the Mac OS version

We now have a Mac OSX version of the Detailed Calculator. It is functional but still under development. It has all the basic features that the Windows version has, and produces the same results for a given case. However, it is lacking the more advanced features of the Windows version, such as context-sensitive help. We will update it as we implement new features.

In addition, the Mac version does not work on Macs running Lion or newer versions of the OS X operating system. We hope to produce a Mac version which will work on newer versions of OS X, but we have very limited resources to devote to that project at this time.

Questions or comments

Questions or comments about the Detailed Calculator? Be sure to specify the "Detailed Calculator" in your message so we know to which calculator your question or comment refers.