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How Much Is My Social Security Retirement Benefit

How Do You Become Eligible For Social Security Benefits

How to Calculate Your Social Security Benefits

To be eligible for Social Security benefits in retirement, you must earn at least 40 “credits” throughout your career. You can earn up to four credits each year, so it takes 10 years of work to qualify for Social Security.

In 2022, you must earn $1,510 to get one Social Security work credit and $6,040 to get the maximum four credits for the year. And yes, that means that it is possible to have money withheld for Social Security and never get it back. The minimum is the minimum.

Fact #: Social Security Lifts Millions Of Older Adults Above The Poverty Line

Without Social Security benefits, about 4 in 10 adults aged 65 and older would have incomes below the poverty line, all else being equal, according to official estimates based on the 2021 Current Population Survey. Social Security benefits lift more than 16 million older adults above the poverty line, these estimates show.

An important study on retirement income from the U.S. Census Bureau that matches Census estimates to administrative data suggests that the official estimates overstate older people’s reliance on Social Security. The study finds that in 2012, 3 in 10 older adults would have been poor without Social Security, and that the program lifted more than 10 million older adults above the poverty line.

No matter how it is measured, its clear that Social Security lifts millions of older adults above the poverty line and dramatically reduces their poverty rate.

Social Security Benefits For Workers Turning 60 In 2020 Will Very Likely Drop Due To The Coronavirus Pandemic

Congress could pass legislation that would prevent this outcome.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, about 3 million retired workers who turn 60 years old in 2020 will very likely have much lower lifetime Social Security benefits than previously expected. Without legislative changes, the average earner stands to lose nearly $1,500 per year for the rest of their life. Fortunately, there is a simple legislative changeexplored in detail belowthat would fix these problems without lowering the benefits of any other cohort of retirees. Chairman of the U.S. House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee, Rep. John Larson , has introduced such legislation*and Congress should fix this situation as soon as possible.

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Please Answer A Few Questions To Help Us Determine Your Eligibility

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Periodically checking your estimated Social Security benefits serves several purposes: It helps you plan for retirement and allows you to check for and correct errors.

The Social Security Administration keeps a database of your earnings record and work credits, tracking both through your Social Security number. You can see this information on your Social Security Statement, which is available to everyone age 25 and over. The Social Security Statement also gives you an estimate of the benefits you’ll receive at retirement age, which can play an important role in your financial planning.

Social Security’s 2023 Cost

Changes Ahead For Social Security?

Thanks to inflation, Social Security checks could increase by more than $140 a month next year.

Dan Avery


Dan is a writer on CNET’s How-To team. His byline has appeared in Newsweek, NBC News, The New York Times, Architectural Digest, The Daily Mail and elsewhere. He is a crossword junkie and is interested in the intersection of tech and marginalized communities.

Social Security benefits could increase more in 2023 than they have in four decades, according to numerous analysts.

This year’s cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, for Social Security was already a substantial 5.9% — equal to about $93 a month. But, by June, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the Consumer Price Index, the year-over-year change in prices Americans pay for goods and services, was already up to 9.1%.

In July, the increase dipped to 8.5% and, according to CPI figures released on Tuesday, was only 8.3% for August. That’s good news for the economy but still marks 18 consecutive months that inflation far outpaced the 2% target set by the Federal Reserve.

Next year’s benefits adjustment, which will be announced sometime in October, “will be one of the highest COLAs ever paid in the history of the program,” Mary Johnson, a policy analyst at the nonprofit Senior Citizens League, told the Detroit Free Press.

How much will your Social Security check go up next year? Read on to find out.

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Apply For Social Security Survivor Benefits

You may also be able to increase your monthly retirement paycheck using Social Security survivor benefits.

âIf youâre widowed and your deceased spouseâs benefit was higher than your retirement benefit, you are generally able to claim the higher of the two,â says Brotman.

Experts recommend higher-earning spouses wait as long as possible to claim benefits, since it can prepare a lower-earning spouse for a bigger benefit as a widow or widower. Unlike spousal benefits, which are based on the unadjusted PIA and when the nonworking spouse chooses to start benefits, survivor benefits are determined by the amount the earning spouse actually received if they die after starting benefits.

âWhen a couple is collecting benefits and one spouse dies, the surviving spouse typically receives the higher of the two benefit payments moving forwardâbut not both,â says Brotman. âThat means youâll want to consider age disparity, life expectancy, the health of each spouse and the benefit amounts available for each spouse to try to maximize your benefits, both while youâre both living and when one of you is widowed.â

Using Your Benefit Estimates

As your statement will show, your Social Security retirement benefits will vary depending on when you claim them before or after your full retirement age . The longer you wait to start receiving payments, the higher your benefit amount will be.

However, it’s not always better to wait until your full retirement age to claim your Social Security benefits. If you need your Social Security benefits for living expenses, or you have a health condition that makes it unlikely that you will live past age 75 or so, you may be better off collecting your benefits sooner rather than later. You can use a calculator at the Social Security website to see which retirement age makes the most financial sense for you .

For comprehensive practical information about how and when to claim Social Security benefits, see Social Security, Medicare & Government Pensions, by Joseph Matthews with Dorothy Matthews Berman .

You could be eligible for up to $3,148 per month in SSDI benefits

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Costs Of The Solution

Two issues that are likely to arise in any discussion of fixing this problem are its cost to the Social Security trust fund and its cost to the federal budget. With regard to the cost to the Social Security trust fund, there are three ways to look at the issue.

One way is to view the cost relative to costs in a world in which no pandemic had occurred. For example, the cost could be measured using the economic assumptions in the most recent Social Security trustees report , which were formulated before the pandemic began. From this perspective, the cost would be zero because the legislative change would restore the world of Social Security benefits to what it would have looked like had there been no pandemic.

A second way of looking at the issue is to view the cost of the change relative to costs in a world that reflected economic assumptions indicative of the economic recession caused by the pandemic. From this viewpoint, there would be a cost associated with fixing the problem. For example, the chief actuary of the SSA estimates that if the AWI in 2020 were to fall 5.9 percent below its 2019 level, the AWI adjustments proposed by Chairman Larson would cost $90 billion in present-value dollars for the 75-year period from 2020 through 2094about 0.02 percent of taxable payroll over that period. . The cost over the 10-year period from 2020 to 2029 would be about $21 billion in nominal dollars.

Theres An Annual Social Security Cost

How much your Social Security benefits will be if you make $30,000, $35,000 or $40,000

One of the best features of Social Security benefits is that the government adjusts the benefits each year based on inflation. This is called a cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, and helps your payments keep up with increasing living expenses. The Social Security COLA is significant. Its the equivalent of buying inflation protection on a private annuity, which can get expensive.

Because the COLA is calculated based on changes in a federal consumer price index, the size of the COLA depends largely on broad inflation levels determined by the government . In 2023, Social Security beneficiaries will likely see a 9.7% COLA in their monthly Social Security benefits, the biggest increase since 1981. The COLA for 2023 will be announced on October 13.

Heres what COLAs have been in other recent years:

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Don’t Forget The Social Security Earnings Test

The only important caveat to the strategy of receiving Social Security benefits and working at the same time is the Social Security Earnings Test – where ongoing earned income can partially or fully reduce retirement benefits if they are taken early. So you cannot retire at 62 and still work, or earned income above the Earnings Test threshold will reduce the retirement benefits. The strategy of working while getting Social Security benefits is only viable after reaching full retirement age . On the other hand, beyond that point, it really is possible for each subsequent year of work in someone’s late 60s or even 70s and beyond, to be receiving Social Security benefits while working and have those benefits recalculated for the future based on another year of work !

So what do you think? Have you ever counseled a prospective retiree to keep working after 66 not just to delay Social Security benefits, but to increase their earnings in order to be eligible for a higher calculated benefit? Would you consider the strategy in the future? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

You Can Undo A Social Security Benefits Claiming Decision

There arent many times in life you can take a mulligan. But Social Security offers you the chance for a do-over. Lets say you claimed your benefit, but now regret the decision and wish you had waited. During the first 12 months of claiming benefits, you can withdraw your application. You will have to repay all of the benefits youve received, along with any spousal benefits, but when you restart benefits, youll receive a larger amount, just as you would have if you had delayed filing in the first place.

If it has been more than 12 months since you filed for Social Security, you cant withdraw your application and restart benefits at a later date. But early retirees who have returned to the workforce are not totally out of luck: Once you reach full retirement age, you can suspend benefits until age 70. This will enable you to earn delayed-retirement credits of 8% a year . This can add up to tens of thousands of dollars for many people, says William Meyer, chief executive of Social Security Solutions.

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Social Security Retirees Are Expected To See The Largest Increase To Their 2023 Benefits In Decades

New August inflation data sent the market tumbling earlier this week, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average giving up an astonishing 1,250 points on Tuesday as inflation came in hotter than expected last month.

The inflation data doesn’t just impact markets it also plays a big role in determining how much Social Security benefits will increase next year. Due to surging inflation, retirees are poised to receive one of the largest increases to their 2023 benefits in decades.

While we don’t know that exact amount yet, here is where things stand after recent August inflation data.

Fact #: Social Security Is More Than Just A Retirement Program It Also Provides Important Life Insurance And Disability Insurance Protection


Over 65 million people, or more than 1 in every 6 U.S. residents, collected Social Security benefits in January 2022. While older adults make up about 4 in 5 beneficiaries, another one-fifth of beneficiaries received Social Security Disability Insurance or were young survivors of deceased workers.

In addition to Social Securitys retirement benefits, workers earn life insurance and SSDI protection by making Social Security payroll tax contributions:

  • About 96 percent of people aged 20-49 who worked in jobs covered by Social Security in 2020 have earned life insurance protection through Social Security.
  • For a young worker with average earnings, a spouse, and two children, thats equivalent to a life insurance policy with a face value of nearly $800,000 in 2020, according to Social Securitys actuaries.
  • About 89 percent of people aged 21-64 who worked in covered employment in 2020 are insured through Social Security in case of severe disability.

The risk of disability or premature death is greater than many people realize. Some 7 percent of recent entrants to the labor force will die before reaching the full retirement age, and many more will become disabled.

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How Can I Increase My Monthly Retirement Benefits

If you can wait until after your full retirement age to collect benefits, your benefit amount will increase each month until you turn 70. These monthly raises, called “delayed retirement credits,” can boost your benefits by as much as 124% of your PIA if you have an FRA of 67 and you wait until age 70 to collect. Maximizing your Social Security benefits can help close a gap between the money youve saved and the income you want in retirement.

Percent of PIA collectable by Age3

Collect at Age 67


Collect at Age 70 or Later


*Assumes FRA of 67

The Cost Of Living Adjustment

Each year, the Social Security Administration factors in a cost of living adjustment to account for inflation. The idea is that if the cost of living goes up, so should Social Security benefits so retirees don’t lose purchasing power.

The COLA is calculated by looking at the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers in the third quarter of the year during the months of July, August, and September.

Image source: Getty Images.

The SSA then takes the average CPI-W for these months and stacks it up against the average CPI-W in the third quarter of the prior year. The percentage increase in the CPI-W from the prior year becomes the COLA increase for the following year. In 2021, the CPI-W increased by 5.9% from 2020, which was a big increase on its own.

This year, with prices on everything from rent to medical care services to food soaring, inflation has been at a 40-year high. That means the COLA increase for 2023 is likely to be even bigger than it was this year. While we don’t have September inflation data yet, we now have the CPI-W numbers from July and August, which enables us to calculate what the COLA increase would be based on these two months.

In July and August of this year, the CPI-W averaged 291.924. In July and August of last year, the CPI-W averaged 268.088. This means that for these two months, the CPI-W is up 8.89% this year.

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Example Of Maximum Social Security Benefits

Say that someone who turned 62 in 2021 will reach FRA at 66 years and 10 months, with earnings that make them eligible at that point for a monthly benefit of $1,000. Opting to receive benefits at age 62 will reduce their monthly benefit by 29.2%, to $708, to account for the longer time that they could receive benefits, according to the Social Security Administration . That decrease is usually permanent.

If that same person waits to get benefits until age 70, their monthly benefit increases to $1,253. The larger amount is due to the delayed retirement credits earned for the decision to postpone receiving benefits past FRA. In this example, that higher amount at age 70 is about 77% more than the benefit that they would receive each month if benefits started at age 62a difference of $545 each month.

Of course, the best time for someone to start taking Social Security benefits depends on a variety of factors, not just the dollar amount of the benefit. Things such as current income and employment status, other available retirement funds, and life expectancy also must be factored into the decision.

The SSA has calculators to help you estimate your benefits.

How Will Work Affect Your Benefits

ð´Can I Apply For Social Security Retirement Benefits In Advance of Age 62

The lower the historical inflation-adjusted income, the more significant the value of continuing to work, both because the income replacement tier may be more favorable, and because there will typically be lower income years to replace. In the logical extreme, where a worker doesnt even have 35 years of historical earnings, additional working years will replace a $0 year in the AIME equation with the new years worth of earnings, giving the full benefit of the earnings at the current income replacement tier to be added into Social Security benefits!

On the other hand, if the historical earnings are already high enough that adding another income year doesnt replace any of the prior years, the impact of having another working year could be precisely $0 on future Social Security benefits! Or if historical AIME was already high, adding in a higher income year could have a very modest effect if the prior lowest year was already $80,000 .

Its also worth noting that since continuing to work increases the workers overall PIA, it increases not only his/her own benefit, but any other benefits paid based on that earnings record which means continued work can increase the retirement benefit, and a spousal benefit, dependent benefit, or a future survivor benefit as well.

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