Frequently Asked Questions

No, you should create a new user account for Quicken Social Security Optimizer by clicking here.

Quicken Social Security Optimizer is a web-based application. Our software can be used on any Windows, Mac, or Linux system using one of the browsers listed below:

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You can also access the software using Mobile Safari on Apple iPad running iOS 7 or above.

Please visit our Take a Tour page.

Please visit our Glossary page.

  • At the very least, you should use the Social Security Optimizer each year because every year the Social Security Administration updates your Full Retirement Age Benefit (FRA Benefit, sometimes referred to as PIA), to reflect such factors as cost of living increases or changes to the Social Security rules.
  • Also, other factors - such as you or your spouse earning a salary during the previous year - may change your FRA Benefit, which may in turn alter the best Social Security filing strategy available to you.

Typically, 62 is the earliest age at which you can file for your own benefits, or 60 if you are filing for Survivor benefits. However, it is important to remember that the older you are when you file (up to age 70), the greater your monthly/annual Social Security benefits will be.

In general you don’t need to, as the Social Security Optimizer looks up FRAs automatically based on your birth year, and also lists it in the downloadable report. However, if you’re interested, the following table lists the current FRAs for each age group:

Birth Year FRA
1937 or earlier65y
193865y 2m
193965y 4m
194065y 6m
194165y 8m
194265y 10m
1943 - 195466y
195566y 2m
195666y 4m
195766y 6m
195866y 8m
195966y 10m
1960 or later67y

Survivor benefit FRAs are slightly different from those for other types of benefit. Just add two years to each of the birth years listed in order to find the right FRA. For example, 65 years of age is the FRA for anyone born in 1939 or later for survivor benefit purposes; 66 years of age is the FRA for people born between 1945 and 1956, and so on. As for retirement and spousal benefits, the Social Security Optimizer looks these ages up for you automatically as part of its analysis, and incorporates the appropriate FRA into its calculations.

Your FRA Benefit represents the amount of monthly benefit you are entitled to if you file for benefits at FRA. Normally, this amount is calculated based on a COLA-adjusted average of your top 35 years of earnings in a job that participates in Social Security (i.e. that pays the FICA payroll tax). If you have not worked for at least 35 years at the time you start claiming Social Security benefits, then the remaining years would be treated as though you earned $0, bringing your average earnings down and therefore reducing your FRA Benefit.

  • Simply visit the Social Security Administration’s website log in page at and login. After logging in, your FRA Benefit will be on the first page you see.
  • If you have not already set up an online account with the Social Security Administration, just go to, click on the “Create an Account” button and follow the instructions. It is fast and easy.

Using your last year’s earnings gives a rough estimate of what your Social Security benefits could be, based on the assumption that you earned approximately the same amount (when taking into account inflation) over your top 35 earnings years. While this estimate is useful as a first step, it can be a lot less accurate than using your actual FRA Benefit, since typically a person’s earnings are not quite that consistent over time.

  • Yes, if you meet the following criteria (subject to a few exceptions as is the case for many areas of Social Security):
    • Your marriage lasted at least 10 years.
    • Your ex-spouse has already filed for benefits or, if (s)he has not yet filed but is eligible to do so, you have been divorced for at least 2 years.
    • You are 62 or older, have not remarried, and are not eligible for a larger benefit on another person’s work record. (It doesn’t matter whether your ex-spouse has remarried.)

  • Yes, you may still be able to use this system if one of you has already filed for Social Security retirement benefits (currently, prior filing for other types of benefits is not supported by this tool). If you are a married couple and only one of the spouses has filed already, you can still use the system. Single users can also still use the system. However, if both you and your spouse have each already filed, then you will not be eligible to use this system.

  • The Optimal strategy focuses on getting you the most cumulative, or aggregate, income over your projected lifetime. However, because the Optimal strategy often includes delaying the receipt of income (so that you are receiving no benefits for a number of years), there can be a period where your monthly/annual income for the Custom strategy will be greater, and a point in time before which your cumulative benefits for the Custom strategy will be greater than those for the Optimal strategy. Because of this, if you are in poor health, or do not want to plan that you might live until the age of 90 - which is the default age of death in Quicken Social Security Optimizer - you should change the Life Expectancy setting, so that the Social Security Optimizer can find the best strategy for your circumstances.
  • The “Cumulative Benefits” tab in the Quicken Social Security Optimizer shows in what year your cumulative benefits for the Optimal strategy surpass those for the Custom strategy.

For more information, please visit the FAQ section of the Social Security Administration website at

A fellow named Ernest Ackerman got a payment for 17 cents in January 1937. This was a one-time, lump-sum pay-out--which was the only form of benefits paid during the start-up period January 1937 through December 1939.

A woman named Ida May Fuller , from Ludlow, Vermont was the first recipient of monthly Social Security benefits.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 was signed by President Obama on 11/2/2015. Two aspects of the Social Security rules as analyzed by the Social Security Optimizer (SSO) are affected:

  • Effective April 30th 2016 it is no longer possible to claim spousal benefits on an account for which benefits have been suspended. This eliminates a potential strategy for a married couple involving a worker filing for retirement benefits and then immediately suspending those benefit payments, so that their own benefits continue to grow while their spouse claims spousal benefits (often referred to as the “file and suspend” strategy). Up until April 30th 2016, a file and suspend strategy is still possible and is also allowed to continue after that date once started (i.e. it is “ grandfathered”). The Social Security Optimizer looks at using a file and suspend to increase total lifetime benefits for a married couple for any age combinations where it would still be an available option.
  • For claimants who attain age 62 in January 2016 or later, the option to file a restricted application for spousal benefits only at Full Retirement Age (FRA) or later is removed. If a person files for benefits at or after FRA when eligible for both their own benefit and a benefit from their spouse (referred to as “dual entitlement”), they will be treated as though they had filed for both benefits and receive a payment totaling the higher of the two amounts, as is already the case for a dually-entitled person filing earlier than FRA. For claimants reaching age 62 earlier than January 2016, the filing of a restricted application for spousal benefits is still allowed once they reach FRA, and so is still considered by the Social Security Optimizer.
As you would expect, the Social Security Optimizer takes these rule changes into account and applies them wherever appropriate to ensure the Optimal strategy leads to the highest possible lifetime benefit.