Every year we get a statement from the Social Security Administration (SSA) listing our wage history and an estimate of the monthly SS benefits we will receive when we retire. Our past earnings determine our future benefits. But how do they do that? Social Security Wage Indexing Factors. The SSA adjusts each person’s past wages for inflation, then takes the best 35 years as a benchmark for determining benefits.
If you have an extra half hour or so and want to look at your wage history in today’s dollars, go to the factor’s page at the SSA. Set the year to 2010. Copy the resulting table of years and index factors (two columns) into a spreadsheet. For each year, type in the reported earnings from your SSA statement into a third column. In a fourth column, set the formula to multiply each year’s actual earnings in the third column by the index factor in the second column. The result will be the inflation adjusted amount of your earnings for that year.
You may find a few surprises in the data. I did.