Your Retirement Planning Starts with Social Security

August 14, 2017 • By

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Last Updated: November 3, 2023

man in storage room looking at laptop Right now is the perfect time to start planning for a secure, comfortable retirement. And you can count on Social Security to help you begin the process.

First, we encourage you to set up an online my Social Security account so you can verify your lifetime earnings record and make sure you get credit for all of your contributions to the Social Security system through the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) payroll taxes. If you haven’t set up your personal my Social Security account yet, you can create one today.

You’ll find important details such as your retirement age, life expectancy, and estimates of how much you may receive in future retirement benefits from Social Security.

As you look ahead to ensuring a secure, comfortable future for you and your family, it’s important to keep in mind that Social Security replaces about 40 percent of your pre-retirement income, on average. So, a responsible retirement plan includes planning for more than Social Security.

Here are some more things you can do now to build your financial security:

  • Contribute to pension plans offered by your employers.
  • Maintain and grow savings accounts.
  • Open and regularly contribute to an individual retirement fund.

These steps — combined with your Social Security benefits — will go a long way toward ensuring a comfortable quality of life for you and your loved ones in the future.

As you plan for a financially secure future, please keep in mind that our benefit calculators provide you with estimates — not guarantees. We can’t provide your actual benefit amount until you apply for benefits.

Our estimates may differ from your actual benefit amount if your future earnings increase or decrease, if laws governing benefit amounts change, if you’ve served in the military, or if you’ve had jobs in which you did not pay Social Security taxes.

Social Security is with you throughout life’s journey, from your first paycheck to receiving your first retirement deposit in your bank account. And, as our nation’s most successful anti-poverty program, we’ll continue to provide you and millions of other Americans with financial protections to ensure a secure tomorrow.

To learn more about our programs, please visit our website.

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About the Author

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications


  1. Lesly F.

    Thanks Ray for your information
    May God bless you.

  2. Lesly F.

    I aploy for ssi disability on 07/20/2017
    Now is 08/16/2017 Along is going to take for final decision.i to pay bills on 09/01/2017.and i have no other income.

    • Ray F.

      Hi Lesly. The length of time it takes to receive a decision on your disability claim, can vary depending on several factors. Primarily, the nature of your disability, how quickly we obtain medical evidence from your doctor or other medical sources, and if your claim is randomly selected for a quality assurance review of the decision. Typically, you can expect to hear a decision on your disability claim from three to five months after you submit your application. People applying for disability benefits may be eligible to receive social services from the state in which they live. These services include Medicaid, free meals, housekeeping help, transportation or help with other problems. You can get information about services in your area from your state or local social services office. Or you can visit the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services web page for more information. We hope this helps!

  3. Vontina

    I like very much getting this newsletter it helps me to know what is going on, what’s coming up next as my retirement years count down. I have at least twelve more working years before I toss in the cards to say retired. In reading the previous post it is important to have other saving to add with social security to have comfortable lifestyle that you had while working or better. God Bless.

  4. Michael

    I have a friend who turns 66 in a few months and she was applying for Social Security online. The online application asks in you receive retirement benefits from a foreign country. If you answer yes, there is a drop down menu listing some (not all!) of the countries with which the US has a tax treaty on the subject. But there is NO option if the country isn’t on your list, which is most of the countries in the world because most countries don’t have a treaty with the US, and some that do have a treaty, like Brazil, still aren’t listed! But if you reply yes and don’t specify a country, the application won’t advance to the next page for failure to answer the “which country” question. This is a serious defect on your online application that you encourage people to use rather than phone or visit.

    • Ray F.

      We apologize for the inconvenience. If your friend cannot finish her application online, she should call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 to make an appointment with her local Social Security office to avoid any loss of benefits. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. You will generally have a shorter wait time if you call later in the week. Thank you.

      • Ronald E.


  5. CAROL S.

    “Comfortable future” and Social Security should not be in the same sentence. Currently, the average monthly SSA check is about $1,200 at 40% is a pre-SSA monthly income of about $3,000. $3,000 is a poverty level income in most parts of the U.S., therefore with your monthly SSA $1,200 you will be retiring into worse poverty than before you retired. I will be receiving only 28% of my pre-retirement income. Also, if you quality for one of the many exceptions to the Gov Pension Offset (GPO) or the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), SSA WILL NOT provide you with a pre-retirement decision in order to plan your retirement, even is your evidence of qualification is indisputable. Time to write Congress.

    • AKA

      Social Security was meant to be part of your retirement income and is a good place to begin planning for that comfortable future. For basic planning purposes figure with offset you’ll get 40% of your social security plus a rather substantial government pension which is not too shabby. Everyone’s situation is different. In my case good planning has resulted in me having more income now than when I worked. Write Congress?? Some people would bitch if they were hung with a new rope.

      • carol s.

        Social Security was “meant” to prevent senior citizens from living an impoverished life, not to supplement another retirement income. Currently for many seniors, SSA will be their only source of income, on average $1,200 per month. These seniors will retire into poverty, negating the mission of SSA. SSA does a poor job or no job of providing planning service for GPO/WEP retirees who qualify for one or more of the exemptions/exceptions. The reference to lynching is in poor taste and offensive.

  6. Ronda P.

    My common law husband is now deceased. We lived together close to thirty years.

    • John

      The District of Columbia recognizes common law marriage. Go to the local SS office or call 800-7721213 and file a claim.

  7. Ronda P.

    I had lived as a common wife in Washington DC for close thirty years. I would like apply for his social security benefits.

    • Ray F.

      We are sorry for your loss Ronda. In cases where a common-law marriage may be involved, Social Security follows the state laws. So, check the laws in your state. You can call our toll free telephone number at 1-800-772-1213 and speak to one of our agents for further guidance. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. We hope this information helps.

    • Lenka r.

      You can. U need to have some proof of common law marriage.

      • Tom

        It depends on whether the stat recognizes common law. There is no federal exemption. If the state requires a ceremony with a document you may not be recognized as married. It is a legal definition each state determines. Each Social Security office would have copies of state requirements.

  8. Debbie

    If you go to the website that Social Security says to look at ..”if you wish to start a retirement fund” also see: or at ( blue hyperlink ); when you get there, you then discover they are PHASING IT OUT. Someone needs to correct that. This is on the Jim Borland Retirement planning starts with Social Security posted Today August 14, 2017.
    Please check and change. PS: If U. S. Taxpayer money is used, should it not be accurate information? Otherwise this money needs to be returned. Actually so does the money that was taken out of social security back in the 50’s and 60’s with interest paid when the presidents used it to back other phases of the Government.
    Thank You, Debbie

  9. Salvador b.

    Iam salvador barboza valencia
    ↵Ssn ***-**-****
    ↵Live in fresno Ca
    ↵Iam in in SSA
    ↵I will like to have the tax forms from 2011 til now plse up can send then by email pls.
    ↵also i want to apply for supplement ssi. I had it begore.. How can i reopen it..thanks

  10. Lesly F.

    I AM HAPPY FOR SSA TO BE 82 YEARS experience ONE DAY at time i am so proud i am one who my ss# is on file it’s part of my generation.thanks u.s.and thanks ssa.u.s.a
    We Stand.

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