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Social Security: What factors decide your benefit dollar amount?

Millions of Americans collect Social Security each month while in retirement as a way to pay for their day to day lives.

social security cards and application for benefits

While the general average check is $1,657, there are different factors that go into what you are paid.

Some receive more while others receive less.

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What 5 things decide how much you are paid in Social Security benefits?

First is your salary.

The higher your income is, the higher your monthly benefits are likely to be.

There is a wage cap each year, and in 2022 it is $147,000.

Making that amount or more will give you the max for that working year.

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How long you work determines the amount you’ll make.

The highest earning 35 years of your working career count toward what you’re paid.

If you have less than 35 years, $0 is averaged into your benefit, dropping it.

Your birth year determines your full retirement age, which is different for some.


The FRA is generally between 66 and 67.

To see 100% of your benefits, you must wait until you reach your FRA.

The age you are when you claim benefits determines what you’re paid.

If you claim as soon as you can at 62, you see a major drop in benefits.

DiSanto Propane (Billboard)

If you wait until age 70, you see an increase for each year past your FRA that you waited.

Finally, your life expectancy will play a role in your benefits.

If you feel that you won’t make it to 70, then you may as well claim your benefits as soon as possible.

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