The maximum Social Security benefit depends on the age you claim it.
For people who reach their Full Retirement Age in 2023, the maximum benefit they can receive in 2023 is $3,627 per month. For those turning 62 in 2023, the maximum benefit they can receive is $2,572 per month, while people age 70 have a maximum benefit of $4,555.
Very few people are qualified to receive the maximum Social Security benefit.
To receive the maximum benefit, your earnings must exceed the taxable maximum earnings limit every year for 35 years. Social Security has a formula that uses your highest 35 wage-earning years to calculate your benefit amount. If all 35 years exceed the taxable maximum earnings limit, then you would qualify for the maximum.
That taxable maximum earnings limit usually increases every year based on the average wage index. In 2023, the taxable maximum earnings limit is $160,200, and you will pay FICA taxes of 6.2% on all earned income, up to $160,200. You will not pay FICA taxes on any earnings in excess of $160,200 – only 6% of all workers in the US will have earnings in excess of $160,200.
The taxable maximum earnings limit was much lower in previous years. If we were to go back 35 years from today, then that would bring us back to 1988…
The taxable maximum earnings limit in 1988 was only $45,000, meaning you would pay FICA taxes on everything up to $45,000, but not over $45,000.
Looking at the increase in taxable maximum earnings, in 10 year increments from 1988:
1998 = $68,400
2008 = $102,000
2018 = $128,400
and the current limit for 2023 = $160,200.
Do your earnings exceeded the taxable maximum earnings limit every year for the last 35 years? If so, then you would qualify to receive the maximum Social Security benefit.