What is a Social Security Primary Insurance Amount (PIA)?

A person’s primary insurance amount (PIA) is the amount of their monthly retirement benefit, if they file for that benefit exactly at their full retirement age.

If you file for your retirement benefit prior to your full retirement age, your monthly retirement benefit will be less than your primary insurance amount.

If you file for your retirement benefit after reaching your full retirement age, your monthly retirement benefit will be greater than your primary insurance amount.

You can find more details about the calculation of monthly retirement benefits here.

Determining Your PIA from Your Social Security Statement

If you are younger than FRA, your Social Security statement will provide you with an estimate of your PIA. That estimate, however, assumes that you will continue to work at your current earnings level until you file for retirement benefits. If you actually retire earlier than that date, your PIA will be less than the estimated PIA on your statement. The easiest way to calculate your actual PIA (or your retirement benefit at various ages) using your own assumptions as to future earnings is to use the calculator at SSA.tools.

If you are older than full retirement age, your statement will instead include an estimate of what your retirement benefit would be if you filed right now. And, because you are older than FRA, that benefit amount shown is greater than your PIA.

For each month you delay beyond your FRA, your retirement benefit increases by an amount equal to 2/3 of 1% of your PIA. For example, if you are exactly 18 months beyond your FRA right now, the “if you filed right now” benefit estimate shown would be 112% of your PIA, because 2/3 x .01 x 18 = 0.12.

So to determine your PIA, we would divide that “if you filed right now” benefit estimate by 1.12.

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