For most of us, Social Security will comprise a significant part of our retirement income. So naturally you want to access the maximum benefit possible for your situation. But you might also be curious to know what is the maximum possible Social Security payment? Just out of curiosity, we investigated this issue for you.

Social Security payments (and the maximum possible payment) do change each year that the Administration issues a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). So these amounts can and do change over time, but for 2019 the maximum monthly benefits are

  • $2,861 for someone who files for benefits at their full retirement age (currently 66)
  • $2,209 for someone who files for benefits early, at age 62
  • $3,770 for someone who waits until age 70 to file for benefits

Again, those numbers are just for 2019, and will change in the future as COLAs are issued.

Now, on to the bigger question… How do you access these full benefit amounts?

It won’t necessarily be possible for everyone, because Social Security benefit payments are based upon factors such as the length of your career, and the amount that you earned (and paid into the system) each year. But in general, we do know that…

Social Security payments are based upon the highest-earning 35 years of your career. If you don’t work at least 35 years, you will have some zeros averaged into your formula, which will bring down your overall figures. If you work longer than 35 years, this can be beneficial because you might have more high-earning years to include in your calculations.

The maximum taxable income for Social Security is $132,900 for 2019. This is the maximum amount that is taxed and counted toward your year’s earnings. Theoretically, you would try to earn the maximum taxable amount each year, for 35 years, in order to reap the maximum benefit when you retire. But keep in mind that the maximum taxable income has increased over time. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t earn this much 20 years ago; what is important is that you earned the maximum for each year.

The bottom line is that your exact calculation is unique to your earnings history, and we can’t predict everyone’s benefit amount within a blog article. But if you want to obtain an estimate of your expected retirement income, including Social Security benefits, you can contact us to schedule a personal appointment.