The average retiree’s benefit is over $2,000 below the maximum.
Social Security benefits are based on the income you made during your working years.
Why don’t I get the maximum benefit?
The maximum monthly Social Security benefit is $4,194, as of 2022. However, the average retiree gets $2,538 less than the maximum each month. That means, the average Social Security check for retirees is $1,657.
Most people get well below the monthly maximum simply because it is based on your average earnings during your working years.
Social Security is intended to replace about 40% of your pre-retirement income. However, the formula works with you. The SSA calculates the standard benefit by:
- Collects data on wages earned each year
- Adjusts the wages for inflation
- Applies a formula that gives retirees benefits equaling a percentage of their average wages over their 35 highest-earning years
In order to get the $4,194 maximum benefit, you would have to make more than the wage base limit for 35 full years and wait until 70 to start claiming benefits. That is 8 years after you can innately start claiming your Social Security benefits. For most people, that just isn’t feasible. which is why the average benefit is much lower than the maximum.