Tool estimates retirement benefits

Question: How can I calculate my own retirement

benefit estimate?

Answer: We suggest you use our Retirement Estimator at Our Retirement Estimator produces estimates based on your actual Social Security earnings record, so it’s a personalized, instant picture of your future estimated benefit. Also, you can use it to test different retirement scenarios based on what age you decide to start benefits.

Question: How do I earn Social Security credits?

Answer: “Social Security credit” (sometimes referred to as a “quarter of coverage”) is the measure of your work under the Social Security program. We use your total covered yearly earnings from wages and/or net earnings from self-employment to compute credits. The amount needed for a credit increases each year as average wages increase.

For example, in 2014, you earn one credit for each $1,200 of wages or self-employment income. You can receive a maximum of four credits for any year. Generally, you need 40 credits to be eligible for retirement benefits. Learn more at

Question: I am applying for Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug costs. Can state agencies help with my Medicare costs?

Answer: When you file your application for Extra Helpwith Medicare prescription drug costs, you can start your application process for the Medicare Savings Programs – state programs that provide help with other Medicare costs.

Your state will contact you to help you apply for a Medicare Savings Program. Learn more by visiting


Jeffrey M. Bettwy is the Social Security district manager in Altoona.