How do I Receive the Maximum Social Security Benefits?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 30 August 2019
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Understanding maximum social security benefit can be difficult. It is contingent on a couple of factors. These include working to qualify for benefits and age of retirement. Other factors could influence how much a household earns from social security too.

Minimum qualification for social security will scarcely ever earn a person the maximum social security benefit. These qualifications are that people earn enough money to earn 40 credits, and only four credits can be earned per year. Thus minimally, people would need to work at least part time for ten years, but this would not yield them a maximum benefit social security amount at retirement. They would likely qualify for a small social security payment that would not be adequate on its own.

To earn the maximum social security amount, people would need to work and make a fairly substantial income for most of their adult life. Amount is based on a formula the government uses which averages the best 35 years of income earnings (and in what years that income was earned) and then computes a total amount of social security benefit. The actual top amount varies by year, and top income considered sits at about $100,000 US Dollars (USD), which means amounts made over this don’t add to social security benefits. In the late 2000s, maximum benefits were slightly above $2000 USD a month but are subject to change, and especially to increase to meet cost of living increases.


The other relevant piece is that social security benefits are penalized if people retire early. Most people cannot begin to claim benefits until they are at least 62, and the exact time benefits can be claimed may be based on year of birth. Full retirement age used to be 65, but has now been pushed, for many people to 67. Claiming benefits before this time may mean claiming less than the maximum social security benefits.

There are some others things that might elevate payments. A spouse who is at least 62 may be entitled to about half of social security benefits on top of what the person claiming them receives. This means a couple of two in the right age range could earn maximum benefits of slightly over $3000 US Dollars (USD) per month. However if the spouse has also worked and earned social security, he or she could bring in close to the maximum amount on his/her own if both members of the couple retire at full age. Another factor that could increase benefits is if there are minor children in the home the retiree is still supporting; they could be eligible for a fractional amount of the parent’s benefit.

A good place to visit to get more specific questions answered on social security is the US Social Security website. Given that benefit amounts may vary, people need good advice on how and when to retire. This site is not just for prospective retirees, but for all US citizens who are looking to plan their retirement. Understanding how maximum social security works can give people a sense of what others plans they need to make to live comfortably after retirement.


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Post 2

@rundocuri- That is a good tip for people who are approaching retirement age. My grandfather never wanted to retire, and waited until he was 70 to take his maximum Social Security payment. He was very happy with that decision because he feels that he will be more secure in his golden years with a larger monthly check.

Post 1

Many people do not know that they can expect to get maximum Social Security payments if they are able to wait to receive them until they turn age 70. Just like the article mentions for other ages, the benefit amount varies depending on work history for those who do not take claim Social Security until age 70, but it is higher than the benefit at age 62 or 65. Though this is not possible for most people, for those that can wait, the payment increase is worth it.

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