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Your Lifetime Earnings Record, and How It Affects Your Social Security Benefit - Motley Fool

Many don’t realize that their lifetime earnings history is used to compute their Social Security benefit – specifically, the highest earning 35 years of earnings you’ve had over your lifetime. Your earnings in those years are adjusted for inflation, totaled up, and divided by 420 (number of months in 35 years) to arrive at your lifetime average monthly earnings. Your monthly Social Security benefit will be a percentage of that amount (around 40% or less). But here’s the rub: if you don’t work for at least 35 years, your SS benefit will still be computed using a 35-year formula, meaning that “zero” will be entered for enough years to make it 35, which will mean a lower benefit. So, it’s probably not wise to claim benefits unless you have at least 35 years of lifetime earnings, but it would also be smart not to stop there. Want more information? Check out this Motley Fool article by Christy Bieber.

Also, if you’re unsure about how these basics apply to you, or if you have any questions about your individual situation under Social Security, note that the AMAC Foundation provides a free-to-the-public service to help Americans navigate the complexities of this program. Learn more about it here…

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