Will You Be Eligible for the Maximum Social Security Benefit of $4,194 in 2022? – Community News
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Will You Be Eligible for the Maximum Social Security Benefit of $4,194 in 2022?

Nearly 70 million people in the US receive Social Security benefits. But very few qualify for the maximum Social Security benefit. In 2021, the maximum monthly check is $3,895, or $46,740 per year. But due to rising inflation, the maximum benefit will increase to $4,194 per month in 2022, or $50,328 per year, a 5.9% increase.

However, a typical retired worker receives less than half of the maximum Social Security check. The average monthly retirement benefit was just $1,559 in September 2021.

Wondering if your future Social Security check will be anywhere near the maximum? Sorry, but there are no easy hacks. Here are the three things you need to do to get there.

A smiling couple driving a car.

Image source: Getty Images.

Work at least 35 years

Your Social Security benefit is based on your highest 35 years of income, so the first thing you need to do to receive the maximum benefit is to work for at least 35 years. If you only work 25 years, the other 10 years will be filled in as zeros when Social Security calculates your average income. If you don’t make the 35-year mark — even with just one year — you won’t be able to receive the maximum benefit, regardless of how much you’ve earned in the other 34 years.

Be a high earner for at least 35 years

Working alone for 35 years isn’t enough if you want the biggest monthly checks. Your income must equal or exceed Social Security’s maximum taxable income for each of those 35 years.

That figure is adjusted each year to reflect changing wages. In 2021, the maximum taxable income is $142,800. It will rise to $147,000 by 2022. Earning enough to exceed maximum taxable income for at least 35 years is by far the toughest requirement to get the maximum Social Security benefit. Only about 6% of workers will earn that much in any given year.

Maximum social benefit by age in 2022

Age at which the benefits begin Maximum benefit in 2022
62 $2,364
65 $2,993
66 $3,240
67 $3,568
70 $4,194

Data source: Social Security Administration.

Wait until you’re 70

You may already take social security pension benefits at the age of 62. If you receive survivor benefits, you only have to wait until you are 60, or 50 if you are disabled. But if you don’t wait until you’re 70 to cash in, you won’t receive the maximum check every month.

Your Social Security benefit is based on your primary insurance amount, which is the amount you qualify for at full retirement age. If you claim as soon as you become eligible at age 62, you will reduce your benefit by as much as 30%.

But for every year you delay past your full retirement age, you earn deferred retirement credits of 8%. To get the most out of Social Security, you need to accumulate all those deferred retirement loans. However, they will stop growing once you reach age 70, so once you are twenty seven there is no point in waiting any longer.

As you can see from the table above, the difference between claiming age 62 and age 70 is significant. Waiting until you are 70 yields a benefit that is 77% higher.

Do you have to count on the maximum social security benefit?

Getting the biggest monthly Social Security checkout is a lofty goal. But even if you have a high income, you should not rely on receiving the maximum benefit.

Even being a year or two behind on your earnings can reduce your payments. Also, many seniors have to leave the workforce sooner than they expected. Health problems, layoffs, ageism and caring responsibilities often disrupt plans to continue working. In all these situations, persisting to 70 may not be realistic.

Waiting to start taking benefits can certainly pay off, but it’s essential that you start saving for retirement early and that you continue to do so throughout your career. Retirement will be much easier if you don’t count on squeezing every last cent out of Social Security.

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