Forecasting Social Security Benefits

MoneyBee includes an accurate Social Security benefit estimate, with inflation and spouses.

Retirement Calculator with Social Security

For most of us, our Social Security benefit will be a major part of our retirement income, and it should be properly reflected in our retirement planning. MoneyBee calculates your and your spouse's Social Security benefits, including spousal and survivor benefits, with the same level of detail as your actual benefit calculation. Our estimates are on "future dollar basis", which means that the various types of inflation that affect your benefit are appropriately reflected in our projections.

The gold standard for Social Security estimates

Not surprisingly, the most accurate Social Security benefit estimates come from the Social Security Administration itself. The SSA offers a couple of free calculators that use the same math as your actual benefit calculation.

MoneyBee exactly matches these calculators, provided you use the same earnings history. The advantage of MoneyBee is that it automatically re-calculates your Social Security benefits under all retirement age scenarios. Also, the SSA calculators cover only your Social Security benefits, while MoneyBee is a comprehensive retirement planning tool that covers all financial aspect of retirement.

One calculation. Two answers?

There are two types of Social Security benefit estimates - measured in "current dollars" and "future dollars". The SSA calculators produce both types of estimates since each can be useful for different purposes. MoneyBee uses only future dollar estimates, which is the appropriate basis for retirement planning.

Current dollar estimates help you understand the value of your benefit

Your current dollar results illustrate how much your Social Security benefit is worth in today's dollars.

Put simply, if your current dollar Social Security benefit estimate is $2,000 a month, it means that your actual benefit at the time you retire will be enough to afford what $2,000 a month can afford today.

However, your current dollar estimate assumes that both your salary and the national wage index will remain fixed until you retire. Therefore, unless you are within a couple years of retirement, this number is far below the actual dollar amount you can reasonably expect to receive. So, while it is a great number to have for your own understanding, it may not be the right number for retirement planning.

Realistic retirement planning uses future dollar estimates

Your retirement planning is only as accurate as the projections it makes. Each financial aspect should be projected with its own reasonable growth assumption. Your investments, your personal expenses, your salary, your property taxes, your mortgage and your health care costs are all expected to grow at different rates. They may also increase or decrease sharply at known points of time (for example, after your mortgage is paid off or Medicare kicks in).

Your Social Security benefit should also reflect a best estimate projection of each of its building blocks - exactly what a future dollar estimate does.

Selecting appropriate projection assumptions

Both MoneyBee and the SSA develop their future dollar estimates using the intermediate assumptions from the most recent OASDI Trustees Report. These assumptions are based on considerable economic research and are relied upon by Congress for budgetary purposes.

What about cost-of-living adjustments?

A future dollar estimate tells you what your Social Security benefit is expected to be on your benefit commencement date. This number will continue to grow after that date with cost-of-living increases. MoneyBee applies these increases automatically, using once again the intermediate assumptions from the latest OASDI Trustees Report. In the 2022 OASDI report, this assumption is 2.4% per year after 2023.

Can you use the numbers from your Social Security statement?

Your Social Security statement uses a current dollar approach. We recommend using these values only if you are within a couple years of retirement. Otherwise, you will be better off letting MoneyBee estimate your benefits on future dollar basis. In that case, there is still one piece of information on your statement that can be very helpful - your earnings history. Entering this data into MoneyBee can greatly improve its benefit estimates, especially if you have a long and uneven earnings history.

Nobody knows the future! So why fuss about assumptions?

Uncertainty doesn't mean that we can't make reasonable financial forecasts based on the best available data and models. After you make a robust plan toward a secure retirement using a detailed, inflation-adjusted calculator, you can manage uncertainty along the way. The most common way to do that is by updating your calculations periodically to reflect actual data and make timely, incremental adjustments to your plan.

What about your spouse's Social Security benefits?

MoneyBee forecasts your and your partner's Social Security benefits separately, based on your respective current age, pay history, retirement age, benefit commencement age and life expectancy. This allows couples to model different scenarios where they retire and/or start their Social Security benefits at different times.

MoneyBee also automatically factors any spousal and survivor benefits. Spousal benefits come into play if your spouse has limited earnings history, in which case they may get close to half of your benefit. Survivor benefits can make a difference during the challenging period after losing a spouse.

Will there even be Social Security by the time you retire?

The expected financial difficulties of our Social Security system has received a prominent media coverage in recent years. Let's take a closer look at the facts to get a sense of what adjustments, if any, we need to make in our retirement planning.

The 2022 OASDI Trustees Report predicts that the Social Security system will be able to pay only 75% of benefits from 2035 onward, barring any legislative action. However, this is not the first time we are in this situation and Congress has always acted in time to avoid any benefit cuts. In fact, the SSA has identified and priced hundreds of alternative solutions that can keep the system solvent.

At one extreme, the problem can be resolved by increasing the Social Security tax from 12.4% (6.2% paid by employees) to about 16.4% (8.2% paid by employees) starting from 2035. Other options include increasing the full retirement age, changing the basis for determining cost-of-living increases, raising the taxable wage base or applying an extra tax on the wealthy.

The ultimate solution will probably include some combination of these options. Outright benefit cuts are highly unlikely, although you may need to wait longer to get an unreduced benefit if the full retirement age is increased any further.


MoneyBee strives to match the high bar set by the SSA calculators in terms of accuracy and research-based assumptions. It then factors your Social Security benefit estimates into your overall retirement planning math to find all realistic paths to a secure retirement.