Social Security easily estimated

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January 11, 2004|By Matthew Kauffman | Matthew Kauffman,The Hartford Courant

The future of Social Security remains one of the great unknowns in retirement planning. But at least it is easy to get a handle on how fat or thin your check would be under today's laws.

The Social Security Administration's Web site ( offers two interactive calculators. One asks for just two numbers - your current income and age - before spitting out ballpark monthly benefits estimates for early, regular or delayed retirement, as well as estimated disability and survivor's benefits. The other calculator offers a more exact estimate but requires typing in your complete earnings history.

Both calculate break-even points to help prospective retirees decide when they should begin taking benefits.

But don't pin your retirement on those estimates. The numbers are based on current benefit formulas. And with Social Security staring down a multitrillion-dollar deficit over the next century, it's a fair bet those formulas will change.

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