What is the maximum Social Security retirement benefit I can get?
With the COLA increase at the start of 2022 your benefit could be higher than ever, but inflation could have something to say about that.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees the financial support programmes available to millions of Americans. Some receive disability support but the majority receive the retirement benefits. In February 2022 around 65 million people received some form of support from the SSA, of which more than 50 million claimed retirement benefits, 77.1 percent of the total.
Each year, the cost of living adjustment (COLA) adjusts the amount of money recipients of any of the support programmes receive. Usually this is close to the inflation rate during the three months preceding October. There was a 5.9 percent increase in benefits from 2021 to 2022 to reflect the high inflation at the end of 2021.
The maximum benefit one could receive in 2022 is $4,194 per month. However, this is only for people who retire at 70 beyond the full retirement age of 67. For the majority of Americans, the maximum retirement payment will be $3,345.
However, the 5.9 percent increase, while historic, has been proven to be measly in the face of continued increases in inflation in the first half of 2022. The most recent data shows a year-on-year inflation increase of 8.6 percent. With this number unlikely to fall significantly before October, expect an even greater COLA increase for 2023.
How is the maximum benefit calculated?
The main factors taken into consideration for retirees are the age of retirement and the 35 years in which the worker earned the most, as an annual average. Based upon the latter, a formula is applied in which the 35 year average is entered, excluding the last two years of work.
Full retirement age is different depending on the year of birth, meaning different age people will have different retirement ages in which they can receive their full state pension.
In 2022, the maximum one can claim in benefits at 62 is $2,364. At 66, this number increases to $3,345. However, the greatest benefits are available to those who wait until 70 and receive $4,194.
The SSA has an online benefits calculator that you can use to obtain an estimate of your monthly benefits.