Want the Max $4,555 Social Security Benefit? Here’s the Salary You Need

Want the Max $4,555 Social Security Benefit? Here’s the Salary You Need

The countdown is on. It’s only a matter of days before Social Security benefits will increase. While every retiree who receives Social Security will enjoy a nice raise, some will make more than others.

The maximum monthly Social Security retirement benefit currently stands at $4,194. That amount will rise to $4,555 in 2023. Want this max Social Security benefit? Here’s the salary you need.

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A not-so-simple answer

If you’re retiring in 2023, your salary will need to be $160,200 to pull in the maximum Social Security retirement benefit. That’s the highest amount for which Social Security taxes will be payable.

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But making $160,200 over the next year won’t be enough by itself. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses your highest 35 years of earnings to calculate your retirement benefit.

No, you don’t have to make at least $160,200 for 35 years during your career. The Social Security payroll tax cap has changed significantly over time. Because of this, though, there isn’t just one salary level you need to make to receive the max $4,555 monthly benefit. Instead, there are 35 different salary levels you must have achieved in the past.

The following table shows the maximum amount taxed for Social Security for each year going back to 1973. You can see for yourself if you earned enough during 35 years to receive the maximum Social Security retirement benefit.

Year Earnings Year Earnings
1973 $10,800 1999 $72,600
1974 $13,200 2000 $76,200
1975 $14,100 2001 $80,400
1976 $15,300 2002 $84,900
1977 $16,500 2003 $87,000
1978 $17,700 2004 $87,900
1979 $22,900 2005 $90,000
1980 $25,900 2006 $94,200
1981 $29,700 2007 $97,500
1982 $32,400 2008 $102,000
1983 $35,700 2009 $106,800
1984 $37,800 2010 $106,800
1985 $39,600 2011 $106,800
1986 $42,000 2012 $110,100
1987 $43,800 2013 $113,700
1988 $45,000 2014 $117,000
1989 $48,000 2015 $118,500
1990 $51,300 2016 $118,500
1991 $53,400 2017 $127,200
1992 $55,500 2018 $128,400
1993 $57,600 2019 $132,900
1994 $60,600 2020 $137,700
1995 $61,200 2021 $142,800
1996 $62,700 2022 $147,000
1997 $65,400 2023 $160,200
1998 $68,400

Data source: Social Security Administration.

Another key prerequisite

There’s another key prerequisite to receiving the max Social Security retirement benefit that you need to know about. You can’t retire early at 62. You can’t even retire at your full retirement age, which is 67 for anyone born in 1960 or afterward. To make the max $4,555 per month, you must wait until age 70 to claim your Social Security retirement benefits.

Many Americans don’t hold off until age 70, though. Only 10.2% do, according to a paper recently published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). That’s usually not the best financial move. In fact, the NBER study found that claiming Social Security retirement benefits before age 70 resulted in a median lifetime loss of more than $182,000.

The maximum might not be enough

Aiming to receive the maximum Social Security retirement benefit is a laudable goal. However, the maximum still might not be enough to retire comfortably. The $4,555 maximum monthly benefit for 2023 amounts to $54,660 per year. That’s only 34% of the $160,200 salary mentioned earlier.

The reality is that most Americans will need to save for retirement in other ways instead of depending solely on Social Security. It’s wise to start saving sooner rather than later. Regardless of when you plan to retire, the countdown is on.

The $18,984 Social Security bonus most retirees completely overlook

If you’re like most Americans, you’re a few years (or more) behind on your retirement savings. But a handful of little-known “Social Security secrets” could help ensure a boost in your retirement income. For example: one easy trick could pay you as much as $18,984 more… each year! Once you learn how to maximize your Social Security benefits, we think you could retire confidently with the peace of mind we’re all after. Simply click here to discover how to learn more about these strategies.

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