A: Your Social Security payment is based on your best 35 years of work. And, whether we like it or not, if you don't have 35 years of work, the Social Security Administration (SSA) still uses 35 years and posts zeros for the missing years, says Andy Landis, author of Social Security: The Inside Story, 2016 Edition.
We base Social Security benefits on your lifetime earnings. We adjust or “index” your actual earnings to account for changes in average wages since the year the earnings were received. Then, Social Security calculates your average indexed monthly earnings during the 35 years in which you earned the most.
Your Retirement Age and When You Stop Working
The age you stop working can affect the amount of your Social Security retirement benefits. We base your retirement benefit on your highest 35 years of earnings and the age you start receiving benefits.
Social Security benefits are typically computed using "average indexed monthly earnings." This average summarizes up to 35 years of a worker's indexed earnings.
Social Security replaces a percentage of your pre-retirement income based on their lifetime earnings. The portion of your pre-retirement wages that Social Security replaces is based on your highest 35 years of earnings and varies depending on how much you earn and when you choose to start benefits.
The $16,728 Social Security bonus most retirees completely overlook: If you're like most Americans, you're a few years (or more) behind on your retirement savings. But a handful of little-known "Social Security secrets" could help ensure a boost in your retirement income.
That adds up to $2,096.48 as a monthly benefit if you retire at full retirement age. Put another way, Social Security will replace about 42% of your past $60,000 salary. That's a lot better than the roughly 26% figure for those making $120,000 per year.
While it's true that the last 3 years you work may affect your Social Security benefit amount when you claim, those years alone are not what determine your benefit dollar amount. Rather, your benefit is determined using a formula, which includes the highest earning 35 years of your lifetime working career.
Those who make $40,000 pay taxes on all of their income into the Social Security system. It takes more than three times that amount to max out your Social Security payroll taxes. The current tax rate is 6.2%, so you can expect to see $2,480 go directly from your paycheck toward Social Security.
If you earn $75,000 per year, you can expect to receive $2,358 per month -- or about $28,300 annually -- from Social Security.
As a result, someone making $120,000 would pay 6.2% in payroll tax toward Social Security on the first $118,500, or $7,347. The remaining $1,500 would go untaxed. Because not all of your income will be subject to payroll taxes, you also won't get credit for all of your wages for purposes of determining benefits.
According to AARP, a good retirement income is about 80 percent of your pre-tax income prior to leaving the workforce. This is because when you're no longer working, you won't be paying income tax or other job-related expenses.
The short answer is yes. Retirees who begin collecting Social Security at 62 instead of at the full retirement age (67 for those born in 1960 or later) can expect their monthly benefits to be 30% lower. So, delaying claiming until 67 will result in a larger monthly check.
According to payout statistics from the Social Security Administration in June 2020, the average Social Security benefit at age 62 is $1,130.16 a month, or $13,561.92 a year.
If you claim benefits with fewer than 35 years of earnings, Social Security credits you with no income for each year up to 35. For example, if you worked for 30 years, there will be five zeroes in your benefit calculation. If you continue working, each year with earnings displaces a zero.
To even be eligible for retirement benefits, you generally need 10 years (40 quarters) of gainful employment. In 2017, you need to earn at least $1,300 in a quarter for it to count as a credit.
We: Base Social Security benefits on your lifetime earnings. Adjust or “index” your actual earnings to account for changes in average wages since the year the earnings were received. Calculate your average indexed monthly earnings during the 35 years in which you earned the most.
At age 65: $2,993. At age 66: $3,240. At age 70: $4,194.
The maximum benefit depends on the age you retire. For example, if you retire at full retirement age in 2022, your maximum benefit would be $3,345. However, if you retire at age 62 in 2022, your maximum benefit would be $2,364. If you retire at age 70 in 2022, your maximum benefit would be $4,194.
At 65 to 67, depending on the year of your birth, you are at full retirement age and can get full Social Security retirement benefits tax-free.
Survivors Benefit Amount
Widow or widower, full retirement age or older — 100% of the deceased worker's benefit amount. Widow or widower, age 60 — full retirement age — 71½ to 99% of the deceased worker's basic amount. Widow or widower with a disability aged 50 through 59 — 71½%.
Earn 40 credits to become fully insured
In 2022, the amount needed to earn one credit is $1,510 . You can work all year to earn four credits, or you can earn enough for all four in a much shorter length of time. If you earn four credits a year, then you will earn 40 credits after 10 years of work.
Based on the 80% principle, you can expect to need about $96,000 in annual income after you retire, which is $8,000 per month.