Advertisement
social security

How to Qualify for the Maximum Social Security Benefit

The amount you earned while working and when you start collecting benefits will affect the amount you receive.

My wife and I are about to retire. We’re both 66. Is there a combined maximum that the Social Security system will pay to a household? If not, how do each of us qualify for the maximum amount?

SPECIAL REPORT: Maximizing Social Security Benefits

Your Social Security benefits are calculated based on your highest 35 years of earnings or half of your spouse’s benefits -- whichever is higher -- if you retire at full retirement age (currently 66). For a worker retiring at age 66 in 2012, the maximum benefit is currently $2,513 per month. If both you and your spouse earned the maximum amount that counts every year ($110,100 in 2012, but just $16,500 in 1977), you could each receive the maximum monthly benefits. See the Maximum Taxable Earnings table for each year’s limits.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Taking benefits earlier or later can affect the payout amounts. Anyone can take benefits as early as age 62, but the monthly payouts will be reduced by as much as 25% for the rest of your life. Or you can delay taking benefits beyond your full retirement age, which boosts your annual payout by 8% for each year you delay, until age 70. If you live longer than the average life expectancy, you’ll end up with a lot more money by delaying your benefits (average life expectancy for a 66-year-old man is 84 years and for a woman, 86 years). See the Social Security Administration’s life-expectancy calculator for the numbers based on your current age.

For more information about Social Security and your benefits choices, see the Social Security retirement planner and the When To Start Receiving Retirement Benefits fact sheet. And for more information about accessing your benefits statement to see what you’re on track to receive, see How to Check Your Social Security Statement Online.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

7 Surprisingly Valuable Assets for a Happy Retirement
happy retirement

7 Surprisingly Valuable Assets for a Happy Retirement

If you want a long and fulfilling retirement, you need more than money. Here are the most valuable retirement assets to have (besides money), and how …
August 3, 2020
Turning 60 in 2020? Expect Lower Social Security Benefits
Coronavirus and Your Money

Turning 60 in 2020? Expect Lower Social Security Benefits

When you file for Social Security, the amount you receive may be lower.
July 30, 2020
How a Second Stimulus Check Could Differ from Your First One
Tax Breaks

How a Second Stimulus Check Could Differ from Your First One

The HEROES Act, which was passed by the House in May, would authorize a second round of stimulus checks. While the new payments would be similar to th…
July 22, 2020

Recommended

14 Social Security Tasks You Can Do Online
retirement

14 Social Security Tasks You Can Do Online

Why visit a government office to get your Social Security business done? You can do much of that online.
June 26, 2020
Calculating Taxes on Social Security Benefits
social security

Calculating Taxes on Social Security Benefits

Uncle Sam can tax up to 85% of your Social Security benefits if you have other sources of income, such as earnings from work or withdrawals from tax-d…
August 4, 2020
Turning 60 in 2020? Expect Lower Social Security Benefits
Coronavirus and Your Money

Turning 60 in 2020? Expect Lower Social Security Benefits

When you file for Social Security, the amount you receive may be lower.
July 30, 2020
What a Payroll Tax Cut Would Mean for You
Tax Breaks

What a Payroll Tax Cut Would Mean for You

President Trump is demanding that a payroll tax cut be included in the next stimulus bill. Would you benefit from it and, if so, by how much?
July 19, 2020