The Maximum Social Security Benefit in 2024

Max Social Security benefits depend on lifetime earnings and age. See the caps and how to boost retirement income.
Tina Orem
By Tina Orem 
Updated
Edited by Chris Hutchison
What Is the Maximum Social Security Benefit in 2020?

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Nerdy takeaways
  • Typically, the longer you wait to claim Social Security, the bigger the monthly check is.

  • In general, the more you earn during your lifetime, the higher the benefit.

  • When you can retire depends on more than just Social Security. You may want to supplement your retirement savings with an individual retirement account (IRA), 401(k) or other savings.

Nerdy takeaways
  • Typically, the longer you wait to claim Social Security, the bigger the monthly check is.

  • In general, the more you earn during your lifetime, the higher the benefit.

  • When you can retire depends on more than just Social Security. You may want to supplement your retirement savings with an individual retirement account (IRA), 401(k) or other savings.

The maximum Social Security benefit at full retirement age is $3,822 per month in 2024.It’s $4,873 per month in 2024 if retiring at age 70 and $2,710 if retiring at age 62. A person’s Social Security benefit amount depends on earnings, full retirement age and when they take benefits.

» Want to bump up your Social Security benefit? Here are 8 things to try

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How is the maximum Social Security benefit calculated?

The size of the Social Security benefit largely depends on the size of a person's lifetime earnings and the person's full retirement age. The more you earn and the longer you wait to claim Social Security, the bigger the monthly check you’ll receive. 

Here are some other things to know about how the Social Security Administration calculates retirement benefits.

  1. The Social Security Administration gathers data on up to 35 of your highest-earning years.

  2. The Social Security Administration indexes those earnings for inflation so that income you earned in, say, 1993 is revised to reflect what that income is in today’s dollars. Earnings after age 60 that qualify as among your highest-earning years are included at their actual nominal value.

  3. After that, Social Security applies a somewhat-complex formula to determine your primary insurance amount, which is the benefit payment you would receive if you wait until you reach full retirement age.

  4. You're also eligible for cost-of-living benefit increases starting the year you turn 62, even if you don't take your benefits until later.

  5. The Social Security Administration decreases your benefit if you retire before your full retirement age, and it increases your benefit if you delay retirement until after your full retirement age (up to age 70).

Estimate your Social Security retirement benefits

Your actual benefit may be lower or higher than estimate made with this calculator, because it does not take into account your actual earnings history.

We assume you have earnings every year until you begin receiving Social Security benefits. If you had several years of noncovered employment or your earnings changed significantly from year to year, this calculator will overestimate or underestimate your benefit.

Desired age to begin Social Security

You will qualify for benefits at age 62.

How to maximize your retirement income

Social Security alone likely won’t be enough income for many people when they retire, which is one reason that saving for retirement is so important.

One way to boost your retirement income is by putting money into tax-advantaged savings vehicles such as an individual retirement account (IRA).

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Contributing to an individual retirement account (IRA)

An individual retirement account (IRA) is a kind of tax-deferred or tax-free retirement account that you can get at many financial institutions. You can use it to invest in stocks, bonds and other assets.

Two of the most popular types of accounts — the traditional and the Roth — allow you to contribute $6,500 per year ($7,500 if you’re 50 or older), even if you’re also contributing to a workplace savings plan such as a 401(k).

  • With a traditional IRA, you may be able to deduct your contributions, which can reduce your tax bill in the year you contribute. 

  • With a Roth IRA, you can't deduct your contributions, but your investments grow tax-free and you can withdraw money tax-free in retirement.

Other ways to boost your Social Security retirement benefits

The more you earn and the longer you wait to begin taking benefits, the larger your monthly Social Security check will be. But waiting longer to claim Social Security and earning more throughout your lifetime aren’t the only ways to increase your benefit.

  • Take a spousal benefit, which can be as much as 50% of what your spouse receives at full retirement age if they’re the higher earner — even if you’re divorced.

  • See if you qualify for survivor's benefits, which can be up to 100% of the deceased’s benefit amount, plus a one-time Social Security death benefit of $255.

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