help_step_2

Helpful Hints
Income Needs
3. Your Annual Income. Enter your current annual gross (before tax) income.
4. Survivor’s Annual Income. Enter your partner/spouse’s current annual gross (before tax) income, if applicable.
5.

Other Annual Income. Enter all other gross (before tax) annual income from dividends, interest, rents, etc.

Total Family Income. This is the sum of Items 3, 4, and 5.

6. Desired Annual Survivor Income. Typically 60-75% of your current Total Family Income to cover your survivors’ needs without a major lifestyle change. Families with higher incomes typically fall into the lower end of the range. This Item 6 is 80% of your Total Family Income. Override this pre-populated entry if you have information that will produce a more personalized analysis.
7.

Annual Social Security Survivor Benefits. Social Security Survivor Benefits are the most complex item in CALC.

Those benefits are paid to: (a) a widow or widower (and some divorced widows and widowers). Full benefits at
full retirement, or reduced benefits as early as age 60; (b) a disabled widow or widower, as early as age 50;
(c) a widow or widower at any age if she or he takes care of the deceased’s child who is (i) under age 16 or
disabled and (ii) receiving Social Security benefits; (d) unmarried children under 18, or under age 19 if
they are attending elementary or secondary school full-time. Under certain circumstances, benefits can be paid to stepchildren,
grandchildren, or adopted children; (e) children at any age who were disabled before age 22 and remain
disabled; or (f) dependent parents age 62 or older if at least half of their support is provided.

The Social Security Survivor Benefit depends on your average lifetime earnings. The more you have paid into Social Security, the greater your survivor benefits.

Social Security uses the deceased worker’s basic benefit amount to calculate the percentage that survivors are entitled to. The percentage depends on the survivors’ ages and relationships to the worker.

The benefits payable to your beneficiaries are limited, generally varying from 150% to 180% of your benefit amount. If your survivor works while receiving Social Security Survivor Benefits and is younger than full retirement age, those benefits may be reduced if total earnings exceed certain limits.

Use the information above as a guide. Or, determine your family’s exact benefits by using Social Security’s Online Calculator by clicking here.

8. Annual Supplemental Income. This is Item 6 minus Items 4, 5, and 7.
9.

Years Needed. Enter the number of years you think your survivors will need supplemental income (as calculated in Item 8) due to your death. This is not an easy answer, as everyone’s situation is different.

If you have children, you may wish to enter the number of years until the last one finishes college. Instead, you may wish to consider your spouse’s retirement or life expectancy.

It may seem that younger spouses will need income longer, but that isn’t necessarily so. For example, if your spouse is age 35-40, retirement might be 30 years away and life expectancy perhaps 50 years; whereas if your spouse is 55-60, retirement and life expectancy might be 10 and 30 years away. Using that logic for this step could be perfectly sound for many people.

Yet the age 35-40 widow/er is statistically more likely to remarry than the one who is 55-60—hence the possible need for supplemental income over a shorter time for some younger families. These are subjective considerations that only you can address.