How Much Will I Get In Social Security Benefits?

The amount of your Social Security benefits depends on a number of factors, including:

  • Lifetime earnings
  • Retirement age
  • Marital status
  • Total income in retirement (which affects whether or not your benefits are taxed)
  • Home state (which can determine whether you pay state tax in addition to federal tax on benefits)
  • Average Social Security Benefit Amounts

The average monthly Social Security benefits in July 2015 was:

  • $1,336 a month for retired workers
  • $1,282 a month for widows or widowers over the age of 60
  • $1,165 a month for disabled workers
  • $1,979 a month for a disabled worker, spouse and one or more young children
  • $2,631 a month for a widowed mother and two children

The maximum Social Security benefits for a worker retiring at the full retirement age in 2015 was $2,663 a month.

When Should I Start Claiming Social Security Benefits?

Social Security retirement benefits may be reduced, increased or unaffected, depending upon your age when you start the benefits. You are entitled to your full retirement benefits (no increase or decrease) at Full Retirement Age (FRA), defined as follows:

Birth Year Full Retirement Age
1943-1954 66
1954-1959 66 plus two or more months in increasing increments
1960 and later 67

Benefit Impact:

  1. Reduced benefits - If you start benefits between age 62 and your Full Retirement Age, your benefit amount will be permanently reduced up to 30 percent.
  2. Full benefits - If you start benefits at your Full Retirement Age, there is no reduction or increase in your benefit amount.
  3. Increased benefits - If you start benefits between your Full Retirement Age and age 70, your benefit amount will be permanently increased by up to 32 percent.

There are several factors that should be considered when making the decision about when to start receiving Social Security Benefits. These include age, health, marital status, income level, tax bracket, financial need and others.

Reasons to Start Benefits Early:

  • You may be in poor health and/or have a short life expectancy.
  • You may be out of work and need the income now to make ends meet.

Reasons to Delay Benefits:

  • You are in good health and/or have a long life expectancy.
  • You currently are in a federal income tax bracket of (25 percent or more), because up to 85 percent of Social Security benefits may be taxable.
  • You want an increased permanent benefit amount.
  • You are younger than your full retirement age and plan to earn more than the annual earnings limit ($16,920 in 2017).

Considerations Based on Marital Status:

  • Higher-earning spouses and unmarried individuals should consider claiming benefits no earlier than their Full Retirement Age, currently 66 to 67. This will enable them to earn the highest possible benefits based on additional years of earnings.
  • As a general rule, the lower-earning spouse should start benefits early.