4

After trying multiple calculators, from ssa.gov (https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/estimator.html) and others (for example https://www.aarp.org/work/social-security/social-security-benefits-calculator.html), and reading up on various sources (for example, https://www.myretirementpaycheck.org/How-My-Paycheck-Works/Social-Security/How-are-Benefits-Calculated), I could not find information for this situation:

  1. Assume that Jane Doe has completed 35 years with the maximum SS contribution (every year, the salary was over the annual cutoff limit).
  2. Jane stops working with age 58.
  3. Jane delays filing for social security benefits until age 70 (not 62 - which is what all calculators assume). Of course, that implies that Jane has to have a sizable nest-egg that feeds her between 58 and 70; assume that exists.

From what I read, only the best 35 years are considered.
With 35 years of maxed-out SS payments, because of the up-indexing of old years, chances are that any further work will have no or little effect (=only if the indexing would change differently than the SS contribution limit). Ignoring that minor potential change, when Jane files at age 70, she should get the maximum SS benefit. The years not worked in between have no (or negligible) effect

Question: Is this Correct?

If not, what can Jane get (SS related) from working in the years between?

Note: How to calculate Social Security benefits if retiring before the early Social Security age? is not a duplicate, as it discusses a different situation. It seems to confirm (or at least not contradict) what I assumed.

2

Yes, your belief that Jane will get the maximum SS benefit at age 70 is correct. Between full retirement age of 67+ years and age 70, the monthly benefit increases by about 8% each year till it maxes out at age 70.

Suppose that Jane had an evil twin Janet who also worked 35 years and made the maximum SS contribution all those 35 years just like Jane. Suppose that Janet started taking SS benefits at full retirement age instead of waiting till age 70 as Jane did. If Janet died exactly upon reaching the predicted life expectancy for 67+ year-old persons while Jane died exactly upon reaching the life expectancy for 70 year-old persons, then during their lifetimes, Jane and Janet will receive exactly the same amount of money in Social Security benefits except that Janet will get her money a little sooner than Jane.

Moral: If you are in poor health, start SS benefits early (even though they will be smaller than if you wait till age 70) so that you get at least some money even if you die earlier than your life expectancy, while if you are in good health and expect to live long and prosper, postpone taking SS benefits till age 70 and continue to get the larger monthly benefit even when you have survived longer than expected.

1

Yes, your understanding is correct. The years not worked have no effect. In the scenario you describe, Jane would receive the maximum social security check that anyone would receive each year. Roughly $3,900 per month currently (will adjust upward for inflation).

Note also that Jane in this case is also well past the last social security bendpoint. So, even if Jane were to have only worked 30 years for example, she would get almost as much, about $3,700 per month. This is because the benefits are progressive, and increasing them to the extreme only grows the benefits slowly.

There is a nice interactive calculator that illustrates all of this with real data and charts at https://socialsecurity.tools/

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