With the 2024 COLA, the maximum federal payment to an individual SSI recipient will go up from $914 a month to $943. (Most states provide supplemental payments to some SSI beneficiaries.) A married couple in which both spouses are SSI-eligible would receive up to $1,415 a month, up from $1,371 this year. Social Security’s annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) provides beneficiaries with a hedge against rising prices. That includes all beneficiaries — not just retirees and survivors but also people who receive disability payments.

Specifically, it’s lowered by five-ninths of 1% per month for the first 36 months you claim early and by five-twelfths of 1% for every additional month you claim early. Alternatively, if you delay claiming benefits until after full retirement age, your benefit is increased by two-thirds of 1% for every month you delay, up to age 70, because of delayed retirement credits. This is why the maximum benefit payable varies depending on how old you are when you first file for Social Security. To determine if you qualify for Social Security’s maximum benefit, Social Security adjusts your historical annual income for inflation and then calculates your average monthly income based upon your highest 35 earning years. If you don’t have 35 years of income, zeros are included in the formula for those years, reducing your benefit and ensuring you won’t qualify for the maximum possible amount. For example, someone who signs up for Social Security at full retirement age in 2022, which is 66 and four months for people born in 1956, could be eligible for as much as $3,345 per month.

More than 7.4 million workers were receiving SSDI as of September, representing about 11 percent of all Social Security beneficiaries. Like retirement benefits, SSDI is paid out of payroll tax revenue that flows into Social Security’s trust funds, and eligibility and benefit amounts are determined by a worker’s earnings record. Social Security is financed by a 12.4 percent payroll tax on wages up to the taxable earnings cap, with half (6.2 percent) paid by workers and the other half paid by employers.

What Is the Average Social Security Benefit?

Up to this amount, an employee is responsible for 6.2% of Social Security taxes and the employer is responsible for 6.2% of Social Security taxes. The first applies to individuals younger than retirement age and the other applies to individuals who reach FRA during that year. For younger recipients, Social Security withholds $1 for every $2 in excess of their exempt amount. Individuals who reach retirement age will have $1 withheld for every $3 in excess of their exempt amount. The Social Security tax rate rarely changes, as employees have been paying 6.2% since 1990; however, unlike the tax rate, the Social Security tax limit is adjusted annually. The combination of the increase in the Social Security tax limit and the additional Medicare tax for high-earners could result in lower take-home pay.

Approximately 70 million Americans will see a 5.9% increase in their Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments in 2022. Federal benefit rates increase when the cost-of-living rises, as measured by the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index (CPI-W). Focus, instead, on what you can do to increase your benefit as much as possible.

Retirement Earnings Test Exempt Amounts

The SSA also
posted a fact sheet summarizing the 2022 cost of living adjustments (COLAs). If you can’t afford to delay Social Security until you’re 70 (or you simply don’t want to wait that long), you won’t be eligible for the maximum benefit. While Social Security allows you to collect reduced benefits as early as 62, you won’t get your primary insurance amount until you hit full retirement age. To increase taxes for high-income individuals even more, the Medicare tax continues to apply to unearned income. Under limited circumstances, some individuals may claim a qualifying religious exemption or temporary student exemption.

Who Is Exempt From Paying Social Security Tax?

You will receive 100% of your benefits if you wait until your FRA to claim them. If you claim at age 70, vs. at FRA, you get an 8% bonus for each year that you delayed claiming. The maximum Social Security retirement benefit that you can receive depends on the age when you begin collecting and your earnings history, among other factors. The maximum in 2023 is $3,627 per month for someone who files at full retirement age (FRA) at age 66. But $4,555 is the absolute highest benefit for those who qualify and delay claiming until age 70. As of now, the employer will continue to match their employees’ Medicare taxes at a rate of 1.45%, which means the total marginal Medicare tax will be 3.8% for high-income taxpayers.

Factors to Consider on When to Start Taking Social Security Benefits

To receive the maximum Social Security benefit, you would need to earn at least the maximum wage taxable by Social Security for 35 years and delay claiming the benefit until you reach 70. The earnings cap adjusts every year based on changes to the national average wage index and is $160,200 in 2023, up from $147,000 in 2022. Not only will you need to have a 35-year work history, you’ll also need to have earned income at or above the annual taxable limit in all of those years. That’s no easy feat given the average American worker is earning about $51,000 per year, yet the maximum taxable limit for Social Security is $142,800 in 2021. As I mentioned, if you claim earlier than full retirement age, then your primary insurance amount is reduced.

All salaries are adjusted for inflation, multiplying wages from prior years by a factor based on the years earned. However, the maximum payment for individuals who qualify and wait until 70 is $4,555.Have questions about Social Security Benefits? The maximum Social Security benefit for 2023 is $4,555 per month or $54,660 per year. But before you start rubbing your hands together, it’s important to be aware that most people have little to no chance of receiving anywhere near that much. To ensure that benefits maintain their buying power, the SSA adjusts them every year in accordance with changes in the cost of living.

The benefit amount is then calculated based on factors that include the year when collection begins, whether you have reached FRA, and whether you continue to work while collecting benefits. The maximum Social Security benefit is calculated based on your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME) income statement template for excel and the primary insurance amount (PIA). Your highest 35 years of earnings are indexed to the current wage base in order to calculate your AIME, then your PIA is calculated based on a formula set by law. The maximum benefit is calculated by applying the bend points of the PIA formula.

The COLA has an additional impact on some younger people receiving SSI on the basis of disability or blindness. Those regularly attending a secondary school, college or university or getting vocational or technical training can earn up to a certain amount from work each month and not have it count against their SSI benefit. In 2024, this “student earned income exclusion” increases from $2,220 to $2,290 a month, up to an annual maximum of $9,230 ($8,950 in 2023). The Social Security taxes you pay while you work are used to fund benefits for existing beneficiaries.

How much are you saving for retirement each month?

A divorced spouse can additionally claim benefits based on your work record, but it will not impact the amount you and your current family members receive. If you don’t earn the taxable maximum for even one year out of your 35 top-earning years, you won’t get the maximum Social Security benefit. The average monthly payout in the U.S. in September 2022 was about $1,628 per month. If you hope to get substantially more than that and receive the maximum, you’ll need to wait until you reach 70 to receive Social Security benefits and be a consistently high earner for 35 years. Say that someone who turned age 62 in 2021 will reach FRA at 66 years and ten months, with earnings that make them eligible at that point for a monthly benefit of $1,000. Opting to receive benefits at age 62 will reduce their monthly benefit by 29.2%, to $708, to account for the longer time that they could receive benefits, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA).

What Is the Maximum Social Security Benefit?

The average monthly Social Security payment for retirees was $1,564 in November 2021. But many retirees receive over $3,000 per month from the Social Security Administration, and payments could be as much as $4,194 in 2022. To qualify for the maximum Social Security benefit, you must have earned 35 years of maximum Social Security wage credits and reached full retirement age (66 to 67 depending on your year of birth). Social Security retirement benefit is distinct from disability benefit, family benefit, and supplemental security income (SSI). However, you should know Social Security’s formula is complex and collecting the maximum benefit depends on many things, including the length of your work history. Here’s how Social Security calculates maximum benefits and what you can do to get the biggest possible payout.

Accounting for this valuation change is important because a salary of $14,000, for example, was far more impressive in 1954 than it is today. To determine if their benefits are taxable, taxpayers should take half of the Social Security money they collected during the year and add it to their other income. Other income includes pensions, wages, interest, dividends and capital gains.

The government bases the annual Social Security tax limits on changes in the National Wage Index (NAWI), which tends to increase every year. The changes are intended to keep Social Security benefits on track with current inflation. These taxes are typically withheld by an employer and forwarded to the government on the employee’s behalf. Currently, the Social Security tax rate is 6.2% for the employer and 6.2% for the employee.

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