By Kris L. Maser

Here is how to estimate your Social Security benefits. If you are 60 or older you will receive an annual statement in the mail. This statement should help you estimate the benefit. Or you can go to and click on Estimate your retirement benefits or use one of the calculators on the social security website.

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Please pay careful attention to the information that Social Security gathers for your benefits. The highest 35 years of earnings are averaged and used to calculate the benefit. If this information is recorded incorrectly (we have seen this with our clients), or not recorded at all, this could substantially alter your benefits. It is important to check the website or statement at least annually to ensure its correctness.

Before you think about retiring and begin to collect your Social Security benefits we strongly urge you to talk to a financial planner who is well versed in the arena of social security benefits and who is familiar with your income, assets, lifestyle and health issues. Some decisions are irrevocable.