It’s wise to know how much you will likely receive each month in Social Security payments before you retire. For millions of Americans, these checks are a cornerstone of financial security during their golden years.
Yet, many people have no clue about how much to expect. If you are in the middle class, here is how much you might receive each month from the federal government.
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$1,867 is the average Social Security check for a middle-class retiree
GOBankingRates recently crunched data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Social Security Administration (SSA) to calculate the average Social Security check for the middle-class retiree.
The website found that those who earned the median U.S. household income of $74,580 in 2022 and retired at 65 would receive a benefit of $1,867 per month.
$1,710 is the average Social Security check for all retirees
How does the average Social Security check for the middle class ($1,867) compare to the average benefit for all retirees who qualify for Social Security?
The Social Security Administration says the average check overall was $1,710.78 in November 2023. So, the middle-class benefit is about $156.22 higher on average.
How Social Security benefits are determined
When the Social Security Administration calculates benefits, it uses a summary of 35 years of a worker's indexed earnings.
These earnings are adjusted to make sure a worker's future benefits "reflect the general rise in the standard of living that occurred during his or her working lifetime," according to the SSA.
In general — and up to certain limits — the more you earn throughout your career, the bigger your monthly check will likely be.
The age at which you file for benefits also determines the size of your monthly check.
The size of your monthly check will be adjusted annually to help account for cost-of-living increases that impact how much that retirement check is actually worth.
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How your age impacts your monthly benefit
The age at which you file for Social Security benefits plays a significant role in the size of your monthly check.
Most Americans are eligible for Social Security at age 62. But if you file at that age, your monthly check will be smaller than if you wait a few years.
For example, you will get a bigger monthly check if you wait until your full retirement age to file. Your full retirement age is 66 if you were born between 1943 and 1954.
For folks born after that, the full retirement age increases gradually. Anyone born in 1960 or later has a full retirement age of 67.
If you work beyond your full retirement age, the Social Security Administration will add an additional 8% to your benefit for each full year you delay filing for Social Security.
Waiting until age 70 to file gives you the biggest monthly check. After age 70, there is no additional benefit to waiting.
Are you middle class?
Moving into the middle class has been the goal of poorer people throughout American history.
The government doesn’t assign an official income classification to the term “middle class,” and the amount of income used to define “middle class” varies depending on the source.
Factors such as the cost of living in your area can also impact what income might qualify as “middle class.” For example, a $70,000 income will likely go further in Birmingham, Alabama, than in New York City.
However, for its calculations, GOBankingRates uses the median U.S. household income of $74,580 to stand in for a middle-class income.
How to determine your estimated Social Security benefits
You can sign up for a “my Social Security” account at the Social Security Administration website. Registering for this free account can help you estimate the size of your future Social Security benefit based on your past income.
You can also use the SSA’s Social Security online calculator. Plug in some basic information — such as your date of birth, the age you plan to retire, and your earnings history — and you can see what you will likely receive in terms of a benefits check.
What to do with all this information
Now that you know how much you’ll likely receive in Social Security benefits, it’s time to build your retirement savings. Having a fat nest egg is one of the best ways to supplement your Social Security in retirement.
So, consider boosting your contribution to your tax-advantaged retirement accounts or paying off your debt. If you’re unsure of the path, talk with a financial advisor who can help craft a plan that aligns with your expectations.
If you're a middle-class worker, it's helpful to know how much you can expect in Social Security benefits once you retire.
You should start investing and saving now so you can build a nest egg that, combined with Social Security, will offer you a comfortable retirement.
FinanceBuzz is not an investment advisor. This content is for informational purposes only, you should not construe any such information as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.