We all know that the full retirement age — the age at which we can start collecting the full benefits to which we’re entitled based on our earnings history — for most U.S. citizens is 66 0r 67, but we can start collecting our Social Security benefits as early as 62.
The recent average monthly benefit for retired citizens was at $1, 557 or about $18, 700 annually. While the maximum benefit check that the Social Security Administration (SSA) is sending is at $3, 895 or $46, 740 yearly.
According to The Motley Fool, the average monthly benefit for retirees collecting Social Security was recently $1,557 — equal to about $18,700 per year. But the maximum benefit check being mailed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) is $3,895 (or about $46,740 annually).
Here’s a look at who is eligible to get that check, and how you can get the biggest amount possible.
A selected and quite a small number of retirees are the only ones eligible to receive the maximum benefit. They are those who worked with maximum taxable earnings in their whole working lives and those who delayed collecting their benefits until age 70.
If you are not part of the group, there are still ways to improve the retirement benefit checks that you’ll receive.
But first, here’s how your benefits are calculated. The Social Security benefit formula gets the most you earned in the last 35 years, considering the adjustments from inflation. Those earnings are eventually averaged and producing your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME).
Your benefit is based on a certain percentage of your AIME, percentages changing over time. It is also important to remember that Social Security benefits are not replacing all your pre-retirement income, only 40% of your total. That’s why it is very important to save and invest for your retirement while you are working and not completely rely on the retirement benefits.
Now, there are few ways that can make your future retirement benefit checks bigger:
Longer working hours – preferably, you should have 35 years’ worth of earnings to not affect your benefit calculations. If you have 35 years now and earning a lot compared to your past earnings, each work year added means higher earnings will remove low-earning years.
Earning more – If you can improve your earnings for a few years, you’ll ultimately receive bigger benefits. Side lines, doing freelance works, or selling items will help you big time.
Wait a few years before you collect your benefits – As mentioned, you can begin collecting your benefits as early as 62 but this will diminish your check even though you’ll receive more. Your benefits will become bigger by about 8% for every year past the full retirement age that you delay. A lot of readings and research will help you in deciding when the best time is to start collecting your benefits.
Since only a few are qualified to receive the $3, 895 monthly benefits, you can still collect bigger checks by doing working longer hours, trying to earn more, and waiting for a few years before collecting your benefits.
If you also want to know the estimated amount of your future Social Security benefit, you can visit the SSA website and set up a Social Security account (for free). You’ll be able to view your SSA’s records of all your earnings and your possible benefits.