Since the Social Security Act of 1935, Social Security has been America’s social program to help fund Americans’ retirement. But how much can you expect to see when you collect Social Security? Can the average American live on the average Social Security check? Let’s dig in.
A financial advisor can help create a long-term financial plan.
The Average Social Security Check
According to the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) monthly snapshot, retired workers received an average Social Security check of $1,830.66 in February 2023. That translates to $21,967.92 a year. That’s not a lot of money for someone to get by on their own. If you were working a full-time job, that equates to being paid about $10.50/hour.
Depending on your age, the maximum total monthly benefit ranges from $2,572 to $4,555, or $30,864 to $54,660 yearly. That’s assuming you’ve been in the highest tax bracket since you started working at age 22. For most people, that’s not realistic.
The Average Social Security Check by Age
How much you receive in your Social Security check depends on when you elect to take it. The earlier you receive benefits, the fewer these benefits will be. Let’s take a look using some 2022 data from the Social Security Administration that demonstrates the differences.
At Age 62
You can elect to receive Social Security before full retirement age in exchange for a reduced monthly payment. This starts at age 62. In 2022, the average Social Security check for a 62-year-old was around $1,130, which is $13,560 a year.
Note: If you’re born after 1960 and taking Social Security, your benefit is reduced by 30% if you take it at age 62. If you were born before 1960 but aren’t at full retirement age yet, use this handy chart provided by the SSA. It outlines what the reduction percentage would be, as well as when exactly you’ll hit full retirement age.
At Age 66-67
Depending on how old you are, the full retirement age for Social Security is either 66 or 67. If you were born after 1960, the full retirement age for you is 67. In 2022, the average Social Security check was around $1,720 for a 66-year-old and $1,845 for a 67-year-old. That’s $20,640 to $22,140 a year.
At Age 70
Beyond the full retirement age, you can elect to postpone your Social Security benefits until age 70. If you wait until the last possible month to collect, your benefit will be 132% larger than what it would be at full retirement age. In December 2022, the average 70-year-old was receiving $1,963 per month, or $23,556 a year.
Keep in mind that this also includes people who started taking it earlier. If you want a more accurate estimation, take the current average of $1,830.66 a month and multiply it by 1.32 (or 132%). That’s $2,416.27 a month.
When to Take Social Security
The best age to take Social Security benefits is a subject of frequent debate. If you claim your Social Security benefits early, not only will you receive less money, but you have a strict limit on the amount you can earn. In 2023, that earnings limit is $21,240. For every $2 you earn over this, the Social Security Administration will penalize your payout by $1.
For people who expect to live until at least 80, it’s generally accepted that the best move is to delay Social Security benefits as long as possible. With this method, you may work longer in exchange for collecting the most you can every month.
If you need the money, however, it may be best to take Social Security when you reach full retirement age. Only you can make this decision. Everyone’s physical and financial health is different, and there are a lot of factors you need to weigh. Research your options and consult with others, including a financial advisor before you decide what to do.
How Much Will My Social Security Check Be?
Your Social Security check is determined by the total amount you’ve paid into it throughout your working life. The good news is that you don’t have to do the math yourself. You can use SmartAsset’s Social Security calculator to get a good estimate for you.
Input your birth year and your annual income. From there, you get an estimate of your social security check. You can further tweak the outcome by adjusting inflation, retirement age and marital status.
The Bottom Line
The average Social Security check isn’t enough to be your sole income. To retire securely and comfortably, you’re going to need a comprehensive plan. For many people, retirement is where they go from one primary income source to multiple sources. Retirement accounts, a part-time job, Social Security and other income streams have to come together to make your retirement work
Tips for Planning for Retirement
- A financial advisor will show you how Social Security fits with other income sources in your retirement plan. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- You need to know how much you’ll need for retirement. Use SmartAsset’s Retirement Calculator to get an estimate of how much to save that you can start your financial planning with.
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