SSA posts earnings histories and other data for retirement planning

SSA posts earnings histories and other data for retirement planning

The Social Security Administration unveiled an interactive Web program last month that lets users calculate their benefits online.

The Social Security Retirement Planner, at www.ssa.gov/retire, took designers about 45 days to develop, SSA officials said.

The agency built the planning program with off-the-shelf Hypertext Markup Language editors Claris HomePage from FileMaker Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., and Dreamweaver from Macromedia Inc. of San Francisco.

The planner lets users determine their retirement payments by any of three methods. With the simplest method, users enter current earnings into the system, which calculates potential benefits based on current dollars or adjusts for future inflation.

With the second method, users must enter their complete earnings history.

To protect such information, the administration does not provide the data automatically from its salary history files.

'In the future, as we develop more secure authentication procedures, we will input your numbers directly from our earnings database,' SSA notes on its Web site.

For a more detailed analysis of potential benefits, visitors to the site can download a program to run on their own computers.

The planning program allows visitors to find out how different types of earnings and benefits would affect their retirement payments, and whether spouses and children qualify for benefits under the head of household's earnings.

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