Will Social Security Count My Big Earnings if I Lose My Job Before 66?

Photo by Flickr user Ed Yourdon
Photo by Flickr user Ed Yourdon
Photo by Flickr user Ed Yourdon

 

(PBS)

Boston University economist Larry Kotlikoff has spent every week, for over two years, answering questions about what is likely your largest financial asset — your Social Security benefits. His Social Security original 34 “secrets”, his additional secrets, his Social Security “mistakes” and his Social Security gotchas have prompted so many of you to write in that we feature “Ask Larry” every Monday. Find a complete list of his columns here. And keep sending us your Social Security questions.

Kotlikoff’s state-of-the-art retirement software is available here, for free, in its “basic” version. His new book, “Get What’s Yours — the Secrets of Maximizing Your Social Security Benefits,” (co-authored with Paul Solman and Making Sen$e Medicare columnist Phil Moeller) will be published in February by Simon & Schuster.


Question: I have worked all my life and made big bucks. I recently lost my job and am almost 61 years old. My husband is already on Social Security but I will get more than he does. I am worried about how much I will lose if I cannot get a job until I am age 66? They will not calculate going forward — just what it says now. I think it will decrease but is there a percentage?

Larry Kotlikoff: You won’t lose benefits if you don’t work and contribute more to the Social Security system. What you will lose is the potential ability to raise your annual and, thus, you lifetime benefits based on Social Security’s Re-computation of Benefits​. This provision raises your benefits if your earnings in the past year exceeded the lowest of your 35 past highest covered earnings after those earnings prior to age 60 have been indexed upward due to economy-wide real wage growth.

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