How to Get the Maximum Social Security Benefit
If you’re a high earner and meet certain qualifications, you could receive the highest Social Security benefit possible ($54,660) if you retire at age 70. Here are a few answers to how to get the most out of this monthly benefit.
Q: What’s the Biggest Possible Social Security Check a Retiree Can Receive?
A: For 2023, it’s $4,555 per month1 if you retire at age 70—far more than the national average of $1,827.2 But very few people qualify for the maximum benefit.
Q: How Is Social Security Calculated?
A: Your benefit is calculated based on the 35 years in which you earned the most income. If you have worked for fewer than 35 years, the years without earnings are counted as zeros, which can lower the average earnings used to calculate your benefit.
In addition to working at least 35 years, to get the maximum benefit possible, you must have earned the maximum taxable income during that time. For 2023, the maximum amount of income that’s subject to Social Security tax is $160,200. That said, only 6% of workers earn more than the taxable maximum in any given year.3
Q: How Much More Can I Expect to Receive If I Delay Receiving My Benefit?
A: Social Security benefits can be claimed as early as age 62. However, the benefit increases by a certain percentage for each year that you delay claiming benefits beyond your full retirement age, up to age 70. Note that no further increase in benefits happens if you wait past age 70 to receive your benefit. This is called the delayed retirement credit.
The percentage of the delayed retirement credit varies based on the year you were born. If you were born in 1943 or later, the delayed retirement credit is 8% per year for each year you delay receiving your benefits beyond your full retirement age, up to age 70. For example, if your full retirement age is 66 and you delay receiving your benefits until age 70, your monthly benefit will increase by 32% (8% per year for four years).
Q: How Do I Know If My Earnings Record Is Accurate?
A: Since Social Security benefits are based on your earnings history, it’s important to make sure that your earnings records, which are maintained by the Social Security Administration, are accurate. You can check your earnings history by creating an account on the Social Security website or by contacting the Social Security Administration.
Q: What Happens If I Earn Too Much?
A: If you’re receiving Social Security benefits while still working and are under full retirement age for the entire year, the Social Security Administration deducts $1 from your benefit payments for every $2 earned above the annual limit. The limit for 2023 is $21,240. Once you reach full retirement age, Social Security deducts $1 for every $3 earned above a different, higher limit—$56,520 for 2023.4
Whether you merit the top payout or not, Social Security benefits can make up a meaningful percentage of retirement income, even for wealthy individuals. At Mariner Wealth Advisors, we can advise you on the best timing for you to begin receiving your benefit based on your personal situation.
This article is provided for informational and educational purposes only, and the views expressed do not take into account any individual personal financial, legal, or tax considerations. As such, the information contained herein is not intended to be personal legal, investment, tax advice, or a solicitation to or recommendation to engage in any strategy mentioned. Any opinions expressed are based on information and sources of information deemed to be reliable, but Mariner Wealth Advisors does not warrant the accuracy of the information. Please seek advice from qualified tax, legal, and financial professionals before making any financial-related decisions.
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