Social Security Benefit in 2022: Are You Eligible to Receive Max Benefits of $4,194?

The Social Security system provides benefits to nearly 70 million Americans. However, only a small percentage of beneficiaries qualify for the maximum benefit. The maximum check-in 2021 will be $3,895 per month or $46,740 per year. A 5.9% increase will be seen in 2022 due to rising inflation when the maximum benefit will be $4,194 per month or $50,328 in the year.

In reality, most retired workers receive is less than one only one-half of Social Security benefits. At the end of September 2021, the average retirement benefit was only $1,559.

Would you like to know what your Social Security check will be like when you retire? These three steps will help you figure it out.

You Must Work for at least 35 Years

You can collect the maximum Social Security benefit if you work for at least 35 years since benefit calculations are based on your 35 highest years of earnings. Your average earnings will be calculated by Social Security using 25 years of work and zeroes for the other 10 years.

Even just one year short of the 35-year mark means you won’t be able to collect the maximum retirement benefit, regardless of what you earned in the previous 34 years.

Read More: Recently Divorced? Keep These 3 Social Security Rules to Receive Max Benefits

Have a High Earnings Record for at least 35 Years.

For the biggest monthly checks, just working 35 years is not enough. During those 35 years, you must earn above or equal to Social Security’s maximum taxable income.

This figure is adjusted on a yearly basis based on the changes in wages. Accordingly, the maximum taxable income for 2021 will be $142,800. In 2022, it will be $147,000. Having a taxable income that exceeds the Social Security maximum for at least 35 years is the hardest requirement for claiming Social Security benefits. This amount is only earned by 6% of workers in any given year.

2022 Maximum Social Security benefit by age

Age when benefits beginMaximum benefit in 2022

Source: Social Security Administration.

When You’re 70, then You can Retire

When you’re 70, then you can retire
If you’re 62 or older, you can begin collecting Social Security benefits. In order to qualify for surviving spouse benefits, the age of eligibility is 60, or 50 if you have a disability. Nevertheless, you won’t receive the maximum check if you don’t wait until you turn 70.

You will receive Social Security benefits in proportion to your primary insurance amount, which will determine or will be the amount you’ll receive upon reaching full retirement age. By claiming at age 62, you will receive a 30% reduction in benefits.

By putting off your retirement for an additional year, you receive an 8% delayed retirement credit. All those delayed retirement credits will be crucial for getting the most out of Social Security. Once you reach 70, however, the benefits and its delayed retirement credit will cease, so it makes no sense to wait if you’re already a septuagenarian.

In the table above, you can see that there is a substantial difference between claiming at age 62 and age 70. Benefits are 77% higher when you wait until you’re 70.

Read More: Social Security Check: 20 Best Places Where You Can Get Maximum Benefits

Should You count on the Maximum Social Security Benefit?

A big check out of Social Security is a good goal, but it’s not the only one. It’s important to note that even if you earn a high income, you should not expect to get maximize your benefits.

If you earn too little for a few years, your payments may be reduced. Also, many seniors find themselves retiring sooner than they planned. Layoffs, discrimination based on age, and caregiving duties often lead to disruptions in plans to continue working. Those situations may make waiting until 70 unachievable.

Still, waiting may pay off in the long run. Although it’s important to begin planning for retirement early and keep doing so throughout your career, saving for retirement should be a priority throughout your life. If you are not counting on Social Security to provide every cent of your retirement, retirement will be much easier.

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