Here’s the Average Social Security Check for All 66 Million Beneficiaries in 2023

In November, just shy of 66 million people — most of whom are seniors aged 62 and over — collected a Social Security benefit. For most of these recipients, this isn’t just a check they’ve earned through decades of work. It’s a necessary source of income that helps seniors pay their bills during retirement.

For the nearly 90% of retired workers surveyed by national pollster Gallup last year who indicated that Social Security accounts for either a “major” or “minor” source of their income, there’s simply no bigger annual announcement than the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).

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In dollar terms, Social Security’s 2023 COLA is its largest ever

Simply speaking, COLA is the raise beneficiaries receive most years that accounts for the rising price of goods and services (better known as inflation). In other words, if the cost to maintain a certain standard of living increases, Social Security checks should, ideally, rise by the same amount. COLA is the mechanism that allows monthly benefits to adjust upward to pace the rate of inflation.

In 2023, Social Security recipients are receiving one of the largest cost-of-living adjustments on record. On the heels of a four-decade high for the U.S. inflation rate over the summer, Social Security’s 2023 COLA clocked in at 8.7%. In percentage terms, it’s the biggest boost in monthly payouts since 1982. But when it comes to nominal-dollar increase, this year’s COLA is the biggest in the more than eight-decade history of the Social Security program.

For a majority of Social Security’s 66 million beneficiaries, an 8.7% cost-of-living adjustment will increase their monthly check by more than $100 in 2023. Let’s take a closer look at what the average Social Security check will look like for all the program’s beneficiaries this year.

What will the average Social Security beneficiary bring home each month in 2023?

Before digging into the specifics, let me quickly explain how I came up with the figures I’m about to present.

Since new beneficiaries — retired workers, survivors, workers with disabilities, and the spouses and children of retirees, survivors, and workers with disabilities — begin taking payouts each month (which can affect the average benefit), I compared the average payouts in January 2022 to the average payouts in November 2022. The difference in average benefit between these two months, divided by 10 (to represent the 10-month difference), was then added to November’s payout to create an estimated December benefit for all categories. Finally, I added 8.7% to the estimated December benefit to come up with the average monthly payout in 2023.

For the entirety of the program’s nearly 66 million beneficiaries, $1,551.66 was the average payout in November. But as of January 2023, this average check has catapulted to an estimated $1,688.69. That’s approximately $20,264 each year, or 49% above the federal poverty level for a single individual in 2023.

Of course, payouts vary wildly depending on what type of Social Security benefit is received. Let’s further break down these average payouts in 2023 to the program’s three main categories.

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A snapshot of the average retired worker’s check in 2023

Social Security was signed into law in 1935, with the goal of providing some form of financial protection to retired workers. As of November, 51.2 million beneficiaries were receiving retirement benefits.

Not surprisingly, most of these retirement benefits are going to the program’s 48.5 million retired workers. As of December, the average estimated monthly payout was $1,679.18. But once the historically high 8.7% COLA is factored in, the average retired worker check jumps $146.09 to $1,825.27 in January 2023. This works out to an extra $1,753 a year for the average retired worker.

The qualifying spouses and children of retired workers receive Social Security’s 8.7% cost-of-living adjustment, too. The average monthly check for the spouses and children of retired workers is now $901.54 and $856.55, respectively.

A snapshot of average survivor benefits in 2023

In addition to taking care of our nation’s aging workforce, Social Security provides payouts to surviving beneficiaries of deceased workers. All told, close to 5.9 million survivors were receiving a monthly check in November.

Nondisabled widow(er)s and the children of deceased workers combine to account for more than 5.5 million of all survivor beneficiaries. The former will see their average monthly Social Security check jump by $136 in 2023 to $1,704.60. As for the children of deceased workers, their average payout is increasing by $85 per month to $1,066.79.

The less-common survivor benefit categories — widow(er)s with disabilities, widowed mothers and fathers, and parents of deceased workers — should see their average monthly checks increase in 2023 to $892.61, $1,236.79, and $1,533.25, respectively.

A snapshot of workers with disabilities’ payouts in 2023

Lastly, don’t forget about workers with disabilities. Social Security’s Disability Insurance Trust Fund (DI) provides a monthly benefit to almost 8.9 million people.

As you can imagine, most of these monthly payouts are headed to long-term workers with disabilities. In November, a little over 7.6 million workers with disabilities were receiving a payout from the DI Trust Fund. Inclusive of this year’s historic 8.7% cost-of-living adjustment, the average worker with disabilities is enjoying a nearly $119-per-month boost to $1,483.60 in 2023.

Similar to the retirement benefits category, the spouses and children of long-term workers with disabilities can, on occasion, qualify for Social Security benefits. The roughly 1.15 million children of workers with disabilities can expect to bring home $470.33 per month in 2023, while the spouses of workers with disabilities will average $408.63 per check this year.

No matter which category the program’s roughly 66 million beneficiaries fall into, this year’s COLA is boosting Social Security checks by the largest nominal-dollar amount in history.

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