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.

Image source: Getty Images.

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.

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.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *