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What is the average Social Security check at 66 and how to get the 100 %?

We tell you what the average Social Security check is at age 66 and how you can get 100%, as well as the factors that influence getting it.

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Social Security benefits are a crucial source of income for many retirees. Understanding the average benefit amount and how to maximize it can help you plan for a more secure retirement.

Average Social Security Check at Age 66

As of recent data, the average Social Security check for individuals at age 66 is approximately $2,415.07 per month. This amount can vary based on several factors, including your lifetime earnings and the age at which you start claiming benefits. For instance, those who delay claiming benefits until age 70 can receive higher monthly payments, averaging around $2,841.54.

Factors affecting your Social Security benefits

  • Lifetime earnings: Your Social Security benefits are calculated based on your highest 35 years of earnings. The Social Security Administration (SSA) adjusts these earnings for inflation to determine your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME). This figure is then used to calculate your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA), which is the benefit you would receive at full retirement age.
  • Full Retirement Age (FRA): The full retirement age varies depending on your birth year. For those born between 1943 and 1954, the FRA is 66. For individuals born in 1960 or later, the FRA is 67. Claiming benefits before reaching your FRA results in a permanent reduction in your monthly benefit, while delaying benefits past your FRA increases your monthly payments.
  • Early or delayed retirement: If you start receiving benefits at age 62, your monthly benefit could be reduced by up to 30% compared to what you would receive at your FRA. Conversely, if you delay claiming benefits until age 70, you can receive up to 124% of your PIA.

How to get 100% of your Social Security benefits

To receive 100% of your Social Security benefits, you need to claim them at your full retirement age. Here are some strategies to ensure you maximize your benefits:

  • Understand your Full Retirement Age: Your full retirement age is the age at which you are entitled to receive 100% of your Social Security benefits. For most people, this age is between 66 and 67, depending on your birth year. Knowing your FRA is crucial for planning when to start claiming benefits.
  • Work for at least 35 Years: The SSA calculates your benefits based on your highest 35 years of earnings. If you work fewer than 35 years, the SSA will include zeros in the calculation, which can significantly reduce your benefit amount. Therefore, working for at least 35 years can help maximize your benefits.
  • Maximize your earnings: Since your benefits are based on your earnings, increasing your income can boost your Social Security payments. This might involve seeking higher-paying jobs, negotiating raises, or taking on additional work. Remember, the SSA only considers earnings up to the maximum taxable earnings cap, which is adjusted annually.
  • Delay claiming benefits: If you can afford to wait, delaying your benefits past your FRA can result in higher monthly payments. For each year you delay claiming benefits beyond your FRA, up to age 70, your benefits increase by approximately 8%. This can significantly boost your monthly income in retirement.
  • Avoid working while receiving benefits: If you claim benefits before your FRA and continue to work, your benefits may be reduced if your earnings exceed certain limits. In 2024, the earnings limit is $22,320. Once you reach your FRA, there is no limit on how much you can earn without affecting your benefits.

The average Social Security check at 66

Understanding the average Social Security check at age 66 and the factors that influence your benefits can help you make informed decisions about your retirement. By knowing your full retirement age, working for at least 35 years, maximizing your earnings, delaying benefits, and managing your work income, you can ensure you receive the maximum possible benefits from Social Security.

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