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lev-tax, Tax Advisor
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 29975
Experience:  Taxes, Immigration, Labor Relations
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Are the social security payments to the recipient based on

Customer Question

Are the social security payments to the recipient based on the last 3 years average income earned? Does the last 12 months earned income affect the monthly amount paid to the recipient? The social security administration states that an average is taken over the highest earnings over a 35 year period, but I recall reading how important the previous 3 year period is prior to making application. I am 66 years old as of June 26 this year and have made application to receive benefits beginning July 1st. Knowing the the administration clearly states the plan can change at any time, I wonder if the collateral material online is outdated? Please advise
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  lev-tax replied 1 year ago.

The social security law may NOT be changed by the Social Security Administration.

That is correct - the law may be changed - as any other law.

But based on the CURRENT law - benefits are based on 35 years with highest earning - with adjustments.

Last three years may ONLY affect benefits if they are included into these 35 years with highest earning.

Expert:  lev-tax replied 1 year ago.

Many people wonder how the SSA figures their Social Security retirement benefit.

The Social Security Administration bases Social Security benefits on your lifetime earnings.

They adjust or index your actual earnings to account for changes in average wages since the year the earnings were received.

Then the Social Security Administration calculates your average indexed monthly earnings during the 35 years in which you earned the most.

And after that - they apply a formula to these earnings and arrive at your basic benefit, or primary insurance amount (PIA).

This is how much you would receive at your full retirement age.

So depending on your earning record - it is possible that there are some missing years or earning.

Also additional years of earning might increase your benefits.

If so - that could affect your social security benefit calculations and you may contact the Social Security Administration and verify if all information is correct.

Following publication might be helpful for better understanding the calculations.

This is the most updated official publication.

Let me know if that answered your question?