How to use the Federal Pension Calculator

You can easily obtain a Social Security retirement income estimate by using the Retirement Estimator on the Social Security website. This calculator uses real-time access to your earnings to calculate your credits, eligibility, and Social Security benefits, based on up-to-the-minute local law.

The Retirement Estimator will give you three Social Security estimates: at your full retirement age, at age 62, and at age 70. You can even use the Retirement Estimator to create “what if” retirement scenarios. These can help you to adjust your planning in order to maximize your benefits.

Using the Retirement Estimator

In order to use the Retirement Estimator, you will be required to log in by providing private information, including your name, your Social Security Number, your mother’s maiden name, and your place and date of birth. If you do not want to provide this information online, you cannot obtain exact information based on your earnings record.

While the Retirement Estimator has access to your existing earnings record, it will not predict future earnings. Estimating your future earnings between now and retirement is up to you.

For security reasons, there is a time limit on viewing each page. You will receive the first warning after 25 minutes of inactivity. A mouse click will enable you to keep browsing for another 25 minutes before you receive a second warning. You can extend your time once more, but the third warning is the final one. If you do not move on to another page, your session will timeout and your work will be lost.

If you do not have sufficient credits for the type of Social Security you are seeking, the Retirement Estimator won’t give you an estimate. To qualify for retirement benefits, you will need a minimum of 40 credits if you were born in 1929 or later. For every year that you were born before 1929, you need one fewer credit.

The Retirement Estimator can’t be used if you are currently receiving benefits on your own Social Security record or another Social Security record, or if you are waiting for a decision about your application for benefits or Medicare. However, you can still use the Retirement Estimator if you are currently receiving Medicare benefits only.

If you are eligible for a pension based on work not covered by Social Security, the Retirement Estimator won’t be able to give you a reliable estimate. Instead, you should use one of the alternate calculators linked below.

Alternate calculators

The alternate calculators will not access your earnings record. They will show a variety of estimates for all Social Security benefits, but their estimates won’t be as precise as those of the Retirement Estimator.

However, these are the calculators you should use if you are eligible for a pension but were not doing work that is covered by Social Security. Your benefit may change if you were in military service, employed by a railroad, or otherwise performed pensionable work on which you did not pay Social Security tax.

Unlike the Retirement Estimator, these alternative calculators automatically assume you have the necessary credits for the type of Social Security income you are seeking. If you plug in the numbers, they will still give you an estimate, even if you don’t have enough credits to qualify. However, that estimate will be useless until you do accumulate enough credits to qualify.

These are just estimates

Even the Retirement Estimator can’t give you an absolutely perfect estimate. Its estimate is based on your current Social Security earnings record and your estimation of future income. Any deviations from that record in future years will change the amount of your Social Security benefits. The law itself could change between now and the year you apply for Social Security.