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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you make $120,000, here's your calculated monthly benefit
According to the Social Security benefit formula in the previous section, this would produce an initial monthly benefit of $2,920 at full retirement age.
If you do not have 35 years of earnings by the time you apply for retirement benefits, your benefit amount will be lower than it would be if you worked 35 years. Years without work count as zeroes in the benefit calculation. Learn more at www.ssa.gov/OACT/COLA/Benefits.html.
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.
Social Security benefits are based on your lifetime earnings. Your actual earnings are adjusted or “indexed” 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.
Key Takeaways. Some American workers do not qualify for Social Security retirement benefits. Workers who have not accrued the requisite 40 credits (roughly 10 years of employment) are not eligible for Social Security.
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.
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.
California. In America's most populous state, some 4.3 million retirees who collect Social Security can expect to receive an average $1,496.13 per month from the program in 2020, or $17,953.56 over the course of the year. California is another state where benefits are below average for the U.S.
The only people who can legally collect benefits without paying into Social Security are family members of workers who have done so. Nonworking spouses, ex-spouses, offspring or parents may be eligible for spousal, survivor or children's benefits based on the qualifying worker's earnings record.
No 40 Credits, No Retirement
Social Security requires a minimum of 40 credits for retirement benefits, whether you take early retirement at age 62 or wait until your full retirement age which can vary from 65 to 67, depending on the year of your birth. If you don't have the 40 credits, you don't draw any retirement.
DEFINITION: The special minimum benefit is a special minimum primary insurance amount ( PIA ) enacted in 1972 to provide adequate benefits to long-term low earners. The first full special minimum PIA in 1973 was $170 per month. Beginning in 1979, its value has increased with price growth and is $886 per month in 2020.
But if you can supplement your retirement income with other savings or sources of income, then $6,000 a month could be a good starting point for a comfortable retirement.
Some people who get Social Security must pay federal income taxes on their benefits. However, no one pays taxes on more than 85% percent of their Social Security benefits. You must pay taxes on your benefits if you file a federal tax return as an “individual” and your “combined income” exceeds $25,000.
You can see that Social Security represents only a small portion of a high-income worker's pay. Those making $125,000 a year will get less than 30% of their pre-retirement income replaced by Social Security.
Key takeaways. If you claim Social Security at age 62, rather than wait until your full retirement age (FRA), you can expect a 30% reduction in monthly benefits. For every year you delay claiming Social Security past your FRA up to age 70, you get an 8% increase in your benefit.