Social Security benefits are calculated based off a number of different factors, making the maximum amount each person can receive difficult to calculate. The disability professionals at Disability Associates suggest strategies for ensuring that you are maximizing your social security benefits.
There are thousands of different factors that help the Social Security Administration determine the benefits each applicant is qualified to receive. As such, it is extremely difficult for individuals to determine the maximum amount for which they are eligible. Although an exact calculation is likely not possible, there are several ways to determine the range of benefits you should be receiving, based on the Social Security Administration’s classification of your disability.
The two most important factors, independent of all others, are the number of years an individual has contributed to Social Security and the amount of income an individual earns during those contributing years. In general, the longer you have been contributing to Social Security and the higher your income during the period of those contributions, the higher your monthly benefits payments will be.
The first step in calculating the amount of benefits you are eligible to receive is to determine your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings, or AIME. This amount can be determined by adding up the number of years for which you have been paying into Social Security and subsequently multiplying that number by 12 to determine the total number of months during which you contributed to the program. Dividing the number of years by the number of months will give you your AIME. You will then need to factor in your annual income. Your AIME will be adjusted up or down, depending on which income bracket your salary falls into.
The last easily quantifiable factor is the number of years during which you worked and contributed to Social Security. Benefits become available after 10 years of payments, and the maximum amount for your income bracket becomes available once you have worked for 35 years.
Once you have worked at least 35 years, and factoring in several other factors including a schedule of retirement age determined by the Social Security Administration, you are considered to have reached what is known as your Full Retirement Age, or FRA.
Although there are many factors that influence the final amount of benefits each individual receives, annual income earned, the number of contributing years, and waiting until FRA to retire are the most important determinants of your final monthly benefit allowance. One of the simplest ways to further maximize these benefits is to continue working and contributing past your FRA.
If you elect to do this, you may receive an added percentage atop your maximum benefit allowance. You can often further increase your benefit payments by reporting dependence on the income of an ex-spouse or spouse who has passed away. Individuals who can no longer access important funds that they previously received from a second household income may be awarded a certain percentage increase to their previously determined benefits.
Although Social Security is transparent about the benefits calculation process, the best way to ensure that you are maximizing your Social Security benefits is to speak with an experienced disability professional. A Social Security attorney will be familiar with the various factors that affect a person’s disability benefits potential, and will ensure that you receive as much support as possible.
To speak with a professional about maximizing your disability benefits, contact Disability Associates today.