What Is the Average Social Security Check at Age 66?

Most people can start receiving Social Security at age 66, but it may pay to wait just a little longer.
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Written by Davin Dearth
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The average Social Security check at age 66 was $2,415.07 in December 2022. However, for many people, full retirement age — the age at which they’re entitled to 100% of their Social Security benefits — is 67

Social Security Administration. Annual Statistical Supplement, 2023, Table 5.B1. Accessed Aug 31, 2023.
. The average benefit at age 70 was $2,841.54.

The Social Security Administration reduces benefits for people who retire before reaching full retirement age, so retiring at 66 could come at a cost.

Estimate your Social Security retirement benefits

Your actual benefit may be lower or higher than the 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.

What’s full retirement age and how does it affect my benefits at age 66?

Although it’s possible to file for monthly retirement benefits as early as age 62, doing so usually results in a permanently reduced monthly benefit.

  • If your full retirement age is 67 and you begin receiving monthly retirement benefits at age 62, your monthly benefit could be 30% lower than what you could get every month if you waited until age 67 to start receiving benefits

  • That means that if you are eligible for $1,000 per month at full retirement age, the Social Security Administration could reduce that to $700 per month for life if you begin taking benefits early at age 62. 

Another consequence of taking Social Security early is that the Social Security Administration docks benefits for people who continue working while receiving Social Security if their job earnings exceed an annual limit and if they are under full retirement age for the entire year. The limit is $22,320 in 2024. Once a person reaches full retirement age, though, there is no cap on how much money they can earn from work


Full retirement age for Social Security

Year you were born

Full retirement age

If you start receiving benefits at 62, your retirement benefit is reduced by...

1943 through 1954




66 and 2 months.



66 and 4 months.



66 and 6 months.



66 and 8 months.



66 and 10 months.


1960 and later



How is my Social Security retirement benefit determined at age 66?

Two factors have a big influence on the size of your Social Security retirement benefit:

  1. Whether you begin receiving benefits before, at or after reaching full retirement age.

  2. How much you earned over time from work. 

To calculate your retirement benefits, the Social Security Administration uses a formula that's based on your highest 35 years of employment earnings. It adjusts these earnings for inflation as part of the process of calculating your benefit.

Only earnings on which you paid Social Security taxes count in the calculation of your monthly retirement benefit. Earnings in excess of the Social Security wage base do not count toward your monthly retirement benefit

SSA.gov. Contribution And Benefit Base. Accessed Aug 31, 2023.
. In 2024 the first $168,600 of earnings is subject to Social Security tax.

To be eligible for Social Security retirement benefits, you also must earn at least 40 “work credits,” which are based on your earnings. You can earn up to four work credits per year, meaning it usually takes at least 10 years of work history to become eligible to receive Social Security retirement benefits

. In most cases, you also have to be at least 62 when you begin receiving retirement benefits.

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How to file for Social Security retirement benefits

You can apply for retirement benefits up to four months before you want to start receiving them. The easiest way to apply is by using the Social Security Administration’s online application, which requires you to create or sign in to your my Social Security account. You can also apply by scheduling an appointment at your local Social Security office.

Some of the documents you might need include:

  • Birth certificate.

  • Social Security number.

  • Your W-2 forms or self-employment tax return information from last year.

  • Military discharge papers.

  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status if you weren’t born in the United States.

  • The name of your financial institution, the routing number and the account number for direct deposit. 

Frequently asked questions

PIA stands for primary insurance amount, and it is the amount of your monthly Social Security retirement benefit if you wait until your full retirement age to apply. Your PIA is based on your work history.

If you change your mind about receiving monthly retirement benefits after you’ve applied, you can withdraw your claim if it’s been less than 12 months since you applied, and if you meet all of the requirements for withdrawing, which includes repaying any Social Security retirement payments you received and submitting a written request to withdraw.

You can get a bigger monthly check. The Social Security Administration awards delayed retirement credits for every month you wait to take your benefit. These increase your monthly retirement benefit by 8% for every 12 months you wait. This benefit increase stops when you turn 70, so there is no incentive to wait after that.

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