Social Security income has become vital for many retirees, so it's important to have a handle on just how much income you can expect from it. The average retirement benefit check, according to a recent report, was $1,420 per month, or about $17,000 annually. There's a decent chance you've earned an above-average income in your life, though, so you may well collect more than that.
Here's some guidance to help you figure out just what you can expect from Social Security -- along with a quick glance at some estimates for someone earning an annual income of $100,000.
Social Security benefits for $100,000 earners
There's no single answer to the question of what someone earning $100,000 annually will collect from Social Security. That's because of several factors. For starters, has the person been earning $100,000 throughout his or her working life? Some people may have received very low compensation in their first 25 years of work, followed by a decade of high compensation. Everyone's work history is a little different.
One's age also makes a difference, because everyone has a "full retirement age" based on their birth year (it's 66 or 67 for most of us today). Also, whether you start collecting benefits early, on time, or late will affect the size of your monthly checks. Those starting early will get smaller checks (but many more of them), while those delaying will get bigger ones (but fewer of them). You can start collecting as early as age 62 and as late as age 70.
Still, it is possible to get a rough idea of what you might expect. Here's a look at what someone earning $100,000 now might receive yearly, depending on their age and when they start collecting their benefits, based on an online calculator from the Consumer Financial Protection Board:
Start Collecting Benefits at 62
Start Collecting Benefits at 67
Start Collecting Benefits at 70
The Social Security website has its own online calculator to help you estimate your monthly benefits.
But what will you get from Social Security?
The table above is instructive, but it probably doesn't tell you what you can expect to receive. For that, head over to the Social Security Administration (SSA) website, and set up a my Social Security account. Once you do so, any time you log in to your account, you can review the SSA's record of your past earnings and its estimates of your future benefits.
An account also allows you to request a replacement Social Security card (if you meet certain criteria), request a replacement Medicare card, start or change the direct depositing of your benefit payments, and get a replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S form for tax purposes -- among other things.
An added benefit of setting up an account is that it can thwart identity thieves who have been setting up accounts in other people's names and attempting to collect money those people are entitled to.
How to get more Social Security income
No matter what income you're slated to receive in retirement, there's a good chance that you can get more. There are various ways to increase your Social Security benefits, such as delaying starting to collect your benefits. You can postpone until age 70, getting bigger checks for every year you wait. Working for a few more years can also help, especially if you're earning more these days than you used to.
The more you know about Social Security, the more you can get out of the program -- and given that few people are sitting on huge retirement savings, Social Security income is more essential than ever.
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