Maximum Social Security Benefit
The maximum Social Security Benefit at normal retirement age is $2,687 per month in 2017 and rises to $3,538 if you wait until 70 to collect. However, the average Social Security benefit actually paid is only $1,360.
To Receive a Social Security Benefit
In order to qualify to receive a Social Security benefit you must work and pay into the Social Security System for 10 years and the benefit increases for each year you work and contribute to the system for 35 years.
Calculation of the Social Security Benefit
If you qualify, Social Security calculates your maximum benefit using a complex formula.
Generally, your Social Security Benefits are: 90% of the first $531 of average monthly wages; 32% of the next $2,671; and 15% of anything above that.
Spousal Social Security Benefit
You might be entitled to a higher benefit based on your spouse's record if you are widowed or divorced. Normally, you will get the higher of your benefit or half of your spouse's.
If you were born before January 1, 1954, you can claim a restricted benefit under your spouse's record once you reach full retirement, and then wait until 70 to claim full benefits under your own record. This allows your benefits to increase in the interim. This loophole has been closed for anyone not born before January 1, 1954.
GPO and WEP Reductions
If you receive a pension or disability from a state or local government where you did not pay into the Social Security System, some or all of your benefit may be reduced through the Government Pension Offset or the Windfall Elimination Provision.