Maximum Social Security Benefits You Can Get
The maximum monthly Social Security benefit available to someone retiring in 2021 is $3,895, which assumes that:
- They worked 35 years or more
- In their 35 top-earning years, their income met or exceeded the SSA’s maximum taxable amount, so that they paid the largest Social Security tax amount possible for each of those years
- They are retiring at age 70, which entitles them to the maximum delayed retirement credit
For comparison, the table below lists the monthly benefits for workers who plan to retire in 2021 whose earnings met or exceeded the SSA maximum-taxable limit every year of their working lives, from age 22. This situation is far from typical, but it shows the impact of retirement age on Social Security benefits, isolated from other factors.
|Maximum Social Security Benefit for Workers Retiring in 2021|
Your Monthly Social Security Benefits Increase The Longer You Wait To Claim
You can collect Social Security benefits as soon as you turn 62, but taking benefits before your full retirement age means a permanent reduction in your payments of as much as 25% to 30%, depending on your full retirement age.
If you wait until you hit full retirement age to claim Social Security benefits, youll receive 100% of your earned benefits. But you can also get a big bonus by waiting to claim your Social Security benefits at age 70 your monthly Social Security benefit will grow by 8% a year until then. Any cost-of-living adjustments will be included, too, so you don’t forgo those by waiting.
Waiting to claim your Social Security benefits can help your heirs as well. By waiting to take her benefit, a high-earning wife, for example, can ensure that her low-earning husband will receive a much higher survivor benefit in the event she dies before him. That extra income of up to 32% could make a big difference.
What Is The Minimum Social Security Benefit At Age 62
The age-based impacts for the minimum Social Security benefit are nearly identical to regular benefits, with one big exception: There are no increases in benefits for delaying filing beyond your full retirement age.
However, the for filing early still apply. Currently, benefits are reduced as follows if you file for your minimum benefit before reaching your FRA:
- If you file during the 36 month period prior to reaching your FRA, your minimum Social Security benefit will decrease by .555% per month
- If you file anytime before the 36-month period ahead of reaching your FRA, your benefit decreases by .417% per month.
Imagine that an individual who attained full retirement age at 67 had enough years of coverage to qualify for the full minimum Social Security benefit of $897. If they filed at 62, there would be a 30% reduction to benefits. This means that for 2020, the minimum Social Security benefit at 62 is $628.
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Many seniors are surprised to learn that Social Security won’t replace their pre-retirement wages in full. If you’re an average earner, you can expect your benefits to take the place of about 40% of your income. If you’re an above-average earner, they might replace an even smaller percentage.
As of July of 2021, the average senior on Social Security was collecting about $1,557 a month in benefits. And while that’s not a bad paycheck when you also have a robust nest egg to tap, it’s not exactly generous in its own right.
In fact, if you were to look to Social Security as your only source of retirement income, you’d probably end up quite cash-strapped as a senior if you were paid the average benefit. And that’s why it’s important to do what you can to boost the monthly benefit you receive. Here are a few strategies that will help you achieve that goal and take home more money than the average senior.
How Much Do You Have To Earn To Get Maximum Social Security
In 2021, the maximum monthly payment you can receive at full retirement age is $3,113. Using the current bend points, that means that you would need to earn about $120,000 per year to reach the maximum benefit level. The maximum Social Security payroll tax per year is $17,707.20. This equates to roughly $140,000 of taxable income.
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Do Social Security Benefits Increase Between 62 And 66
Contrary to what many people think, your payment will not automatically increase to 100 percent of your full retirement benefit when you reach full retirement age, which is 66 and 2 months for people born in 1955, 66 and 4 months for people born in 1956, and will incrementally rise to 67 over the next few years.
How Much More Income Will You Have If You Wait Until Full Retirement Age
The table below shows how much a $1,500 Social Security benefit could increase each month if you wait until your full retirement age to claim benefits.
If You Claim Social Security at This Age Instead of 62
When Your FRA Is
Table calculations: Author.
As you can see, waiting from 62 to 67 could result in more than a 40% increase in your monthly benefit. This is a huge change in the income you have available to you in retirement.
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How Your Ssdi Payments Are Calculated
The severity of your disability will not affect the amount of SSDI benefits you receive. The Social Security Administration will determine your payment based on your lifetime average earnings before you became disabled. Your benefit amount will be calculated using your covered earnings. These are your earnings at jobs where your employer took money out of your wages for Social Security or FICA.
Your SSDI monthly benefit will be based on your average covered earnings over a period of time, which is referred to as your average indexed monthly earnings . The SSA uses these amounts in a formula to determine your primary insurance amount . This is the basic amount used to establish your benefit.
SSDI payments range on average between $800 and $1,800 per month. The maximum benefit you could receive in 2020 is $3,011 per month. The SSA has an online benefits calculator that you can use to obtain an estimate of your monthly benefits.
How Long Does It Take To Get Your First Ssdi Payment
Theres usually a 5-month waiting period for benefits. That means Washington disability recipients could receive their first payments about 6 months after approval.
The SSA denies almost half of the people who apply due to basic paperwork mistakes. Thats why it pays to work with a Washington disability lawyer to file your claim, which almost triples your chances of approval. And since disability attorneys work on contingency, you wont pay any legal fees unless you receive benefits.
Denied benefits? You still have 60 days to appeal in writing. Your first appeal is called a reconsideration and takes about 3.5 months to complete. If your reconsideration is denied, you can request an appeal hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. That could take up to a year, and judges approve only 11% of appealed claims. If your case is successful, you may still wait almost 2 years for your first payment.
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Average Social Security Payment
According to the Social Security Administration , the average estimated monthly Social Security payment in 2022 after the 5.9 percent cost-of-living increase is*:
|Aged couple, both receiving benefits||$2,753|
|Widowed mother and two children||$3,187|
|Disabled worker, spouse and one or more children||$2,383|
*Data for this table is based on the 2022 Social Security Fact Sheet2
Get Ssa Benefits While Living Overseas
U.S. citizens can travel to or live in most, but not all, foreign countries and still receive their Social Security benefits. You can find out if you can receive benefits overseas by using the Social Security Administrations payment verification tool. Once you access the tool, pick the country you’re visiting or living in from the drop-down menu options.
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If You’re Not Sure Why You Received A Payment
If you receive a check or direct deposit payment from the Treasury Department and do not know what its for, contact the regional financial center that issued it.
If you received a check, look for the RFCs city and state at the top center. Then contact that RFC to find out which federal agency authorized the payment. It will be one of these:
If you received payment byelectronic funds transfer , or direct deposit, follow the directions under Find Information About a Payment.
Use the Treasury Check Verification System to verify that the check is legitimate and issued by the government.
How Do I Increase My Social Security Benefits After Retirement
To increase your monthly benefit, don’t start taking Social Security payments right when you reach full retirement age. The longer you wait, the more you’ll get each month. If you want to get the highest possible amount of Social Security benefits each month, you need to wait until age 70 to retire.
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Effect Of Late Retirement On Benefits
1.Represents Full Retirement Age based on DOB Jan. 2, 1955
2.PIA = The primary insurance amount is the basis for benefits that are paid to an individual
To review your situation, your annual Social Security statement will list your projected benefits at age 62, full retirement age, and age 70, assuming you continue to work and earn about the same amount until age 62, full retirement age, or age 70 before retiring. If you need a copy of your annual statement, you can request one from the Social Security Administration .
Are Social Security Benefits Taxable At Full Retirement Age
Your age does not have an impact on whether you will owe tax on Social Security benefits. Depending on your earnings, you may pay federal taxes on Social Security benefits regardless of the age at which you claim.
Social Security benefits are taxed on amounts exceeding the “provisional income” limit set by the IRS. To calculate your provisional income, add up all non-Social Security sources of income, including nontaxable income such as municipal bond interest, and include half of your annual Social Security income.
Single filers earning provisional income between $25,000 and $34,000 and married joint filers earning between $32,000 and $44,000 will owe income taxes on 50% of their Social Security benefits. For single filers with provisional income above $34,000 and married filers above $44,000, up to 85% of Social Security benefits will be taxable.
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How Your Primary Insurance Amount Is Calculated
Once you have your AIME, you can calculate your primary insurance amount , the base rate for your Social Security payments. The PIA calculation relies on so-called bend points that determine how much of your income will be replaced by Social Security benefits in retirement.
Think of bend points as similar to tax brackets, in that they determine a percentage of your benefits based on incremental buckets of earnings. There are three bend point buckets: one for 90% of income replacement, one for 32% and one for 15%.
These bend point buckets help give lower lifetime earners a higher percentage of income replacement, and higher lifetime earners a lower rate of income replacement, says Jim Blankenship, certified financial planner and author of A Social Security Owners Manual.
The dollar amounts of bend points are adjusted for inflation each year, but the percentages of each bend point are set by law and remain unchanged. AIME amounts are always rounded down to the nearest $0.10. For 2021, the bend points are:
90% of the first $996 of your AIME, plus
32% of your AIME between $996 and $6,002, plus
15% of your AIME over $6,002
For a worker with an AIME of $6,250, the calculation would look like this:
90% of $966 = $896.40, plus
32% of $5,006 = $1,601.92, rounded down to $1,601.90, plus
15% of $248 = $37.20
This worker would earn a monthly Social Security benefit of $2,535.50 .
Who Can Use The Retirement Estimator
You can use the Retirement Estimator if you have enough Social Security credits to qualify for benefits and you are not:
- Currently receiving benefits on your own Social Security record.
- Waiting for a decision about your application for benefits or Medicare.
- Age 62 or older and receiving benefits on another Social Security record.
- Eligible for a Pension Based on Work Not Covered By Social Security.
If you are currently receiving only Medicare benefits, you can still get an estimate. For more information, read our publication Retirement Information for Medicare Beneficiaries.
If you cannot use the Retirement Estimator or you want a survivors or disability benefit estimate, please use one of our other benefit calculators.
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The One Move You’ll Need To Make For The Maximum Monthly Benefit
To snag the maximum monthly Social Security benefit, you’ll need to be a high earner for at least 35 years. But that’s not all. You’ll also need to delay your Social Security filing until age 70.
You’re entitled to your full monthly benefit at full retirement age , which, if you were born in 1960 or later, is 67. If you were born earlier, FRA is either 66 or 66 and a specific number of months. But for each year you delay your filing past FRA, your benefits grow 8% on a permanent basis, up until age 70.
Now you may not earn enough during your career to snag the maximum monthly benefit. But even if you do, filing at FRA won’t be enough. Rather, you’ll need to hold off until your 70th birthday.
How To Calculate Social Security Benefits
If youd just like a ballpark estimate of your benefit, the Social Security Administration offers a quick calculator to give you a sense of your potential benefit. This calculator simply asks for your current annual salary, your birth date and your projected retirement date, although it does allow you to fill in your actual income by year to get a more accurate estimate.
This estimate does not take early or late application for benefits, taxes and Medicare, or COLA increases into account. Youll likely need to download the Social Security Administrations full calculator software or work with a financial advisor to determine your full benefits considering those factors.
Knowing how much you can expect to receive in Social Security gives you an important piece of your retirement income puzzle. With that in hand, you can make the financial plans you need for a secure and fulfilling retirement.
Average The Highest 35 Years
The Social Security benefits calculation uses your highest 35 years of earnings to calculate your average monthly earnings. If you do not have 35 years of earnings, a zero will be used in the calculation, which will lower the average. In the table below, the highest 35 years are listed in Column G.
Total the highest 35 years of indexed earnings, and divide this total by 420, which is the number of months in a 35-year work history, to find the Average Indexed Monthly Earnings.
For our example worker, who was born in 1953 and turned 60 in 2013, the highest 35 years of wages total $1,919,040. Divide by 420 to get an AIME of $4,569.
|How to Calculate Your AIME for Social Security Benefits|
What If I Take Benefits Early
If you choose to receive your Social Security check up to 36 months before your full retirement age, be aware that your benefit is permanently reduced by five-ninths of 1% for each month.
If you start more than 36 months before your full retirement age, the benefit is further reduced by five-twelfths of 1% per month, for the rest of retirement.
For example, let’s assume that you stop working at age 62. If your full retirement age is 66 and 2 months you elect to start benefits at age 62, the reduced benefit calculation is based on 50 months. This means that the reduction for the first 36 months is 20% and 5.83% for the remaining 14 months. Overall, your benefits would be permanently reduced by 25.83%.
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How Do Benefits Work And How Can I Qualify
While you work, you pay Social Security taxes. This tax money goes into a trust fund that pays benefits to:
Those who are currently retired
To people with disabilities
To the surviving spouses and children of workers who have died
Each year you work, youll get credits to help you become eligible for benefits when its time for you to retire. Find all the benefits Social Security Administration offers.
There are four main types of benefits that the SSA offers:
Learn about earning limits if you plan to work while receiving Social Security benefits