You’ll often hear that you shouldn’t plan to retire with Social Security. That’s generally good advice.
The average older adult in Social Security today earns $1,665 a month. And that’s not a lot of money to live on.
On the other hand, some older people raise much more money than Social Security on a monthly basis. The highest monthly benefit available this year is a pretty impressive $4,194.
In fact, if you’re collecting the maximum monthly Social Security benefit, you may not need to tap into your savings as much to cover your costs of living. This is especially true if you live a fairly frugal lifestyle.
But what if you’re still working and in the process of planning for retirement? How can you tell if your monthly benefit will be closer to the average of $1,665 or the maximum of $4,194?
The answer? If you have many years of work ahead of you, it may be more difficult to get an accurate estimate of your future benefit. But at least you can get a ballpark figure and work from there.
An easy way to reach that number
The Social Security benefit you’re entitled to at retirement will depend on your salary during your highest-paying 35 years on the job. From there, a special formula is used to calculate benefits that is somewhat complicated. So instead of doing all those number crunching, create an account at SSA.gov and access your annual income statement. That document will contain an estimate of your future Social Security benefit.
Of course, if you’re in your 30s or 40s and only mid-career, that estimate may not be as accurate. That’s because his earnings can grow as his career progresses and also because at that point, he won’t have a full 35 years of work under his belt. But if you check that estimate, you will at least have an idea of what profit you can make.
The only move you will need to make to get the maximum monthly benefit
To get the maximum monthly Social Security benefit, you’ll need to have a high income for at least 35 years. But that is not all. you will also need delay your Social Security filing up to 70 years.
You are entitled to your full monthly benefit at full retirement age (FRA), which, if born in 1960 or later, is 67. If born earlier, FRA is 66 or 66 and a specified number of months. But for every year you delay filing past the FRA, your benefits increase 8% permanently, until age 70.
Now you may not earn enough during your career to get the maximum monthly benefit. But even if it does, the presentation at the FRA will not be enough. Rather, he should wait until his 70th birthday.
Should you aim for the maximum monthly benefit?
There are certain steps you can take to get more money out of Social Security, such as delaying your filing. But you may not be able to control how much you earn, which could limit your ability to earn that maximum benefit.
Instead of worrying about that, though, focus your energy on building a nice retirement savings to supplement your Social Security income. Most seniors don’t end up receiving the maximum monthly Social Security benefit, and unless you have a high income, it’s fair to assume you’ll fall into that category. But if you work hard to build solid savings, you’ll be in a position to make the most of retirement, even if your Social Security checks don’t reach the maximum you can collect each month.
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