Social Security, distinct from other forms of income, carries an upper limit on the amount that you or anyone else can receive each month. This maximum payout figure may adjust annually, but once it’s reached, it isn’t possible to exceed it. As of July 2023, the highest Social Security retirement check stands at $4,555 per month, as per the Social Security Administration’s statistics.
This level of income can only be obtained if you delay claiming your retirement benefits until you turn 70. If you choose to claim benefits at the full retirement age in 2023 which is either 66 or 67 years old depending on when you were born your social security benefit would reach a maximum of $3,627 each month. Opting to claim benefits at age 62, which is the earliest possible age, would allow for a maximum benefit of $2,572.
Criteria for 2023 Social Security Benefits: Age, Income, and Tax Implications
For additional perspective, the average Social Security retirement benefit as of March 2023 was found to be $1,833 a month, as reported by AARP. To be eligible for the maximum benefit, you must match or surpass the maximum taxable income defined by Social Security for at least 35 years during your career, AARP explained. This maximum taxable income refers to the total amount of your earnings that are subject to Social Security taxes, which are automatically withdrawn from your income.
In the year 2023, this maximum taxable income is set at $160,200 annually. Any income beyond this threshold is not subjected to Social Security taxes. This figure is revised yearly, influenced by the changing dynamics of national wage levels, consequently leading to annual modifications in the maximum benefit.
Strategies to Achieve the Maximum Social Security Benefit
In order to reach the apex of your Social Security check during retirement, your initial step should be a commitment to work full-time for a minimum of 35 years. The Motley Fool highlighted that while working for more than 35 years doesn’t guarantee a higher payout, a working span of less than 35 years will likely not lead you to the maximum payout.
Further, it’s imperative that your earnings significantly exceed the average salary to be eligible for the maximum benefit. As of the first quarter of 2023, the median weekly earnings were found to be $1,100, which amounts to $57,200 annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This implies that to achieve the maximum taxable income of $160,200 for Social Security, your salary would need to be close to triple the median amount.
You would also need to postpone claiming retirement benefits until the age of 70 to receive the maximum benefit. This implies a commitment to delaying retirement beyond what most individuals do. According to data from the American Academy of Actuaries reported by CNN, the average age for initiating benefits as of 2021 was 65.1 years.
It’s important to note that the maximum Social Security benefit is different from the maximum family benefit. As highlighted by AARP, the maximum family benefit is the aggregate limit that a family can receive from Social Security based on a single earner’s record. This includes various benefits like retirement, spousal, children’s, disability, or survivor benefits.