If you're already receiving Social Security and are curious how you compare with other recipients, or you're fast approaching retirement and you want to get a better feel for how much money you can expect from the program, you're probably curious about how much the average American collects in Social Security income. The short answer is that the average retired worker will receive \$1,360 per month in 2017. The long answer is that the amount Americans receive in Social Security will vary widely next year.

## How is Social Security calculated?

Social Security is designed to replace roughly 40% of a worker's pre-retirement income. However, the calculation used by Social Security is complex, and a person's actual benefit depends a great deal on his or her work history.

Image source: Getty Images.

Social Security calculates your monthly benefit by adjusting your highest 35 years of monthly income into current dollars and then averaging those amounts to come up with your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME).

Multipliers are then applied to the AIME at various income levels to determine your primary insurance amount, or PIA. In 2017, these multipliers, or bend points, occur at the \$885 and \$5,336 levels. Specifically, the PIA is based on the sum of 90% of AIME up to \$885, 32% of AIME up to \$5,336, and 15% on any income above \$5,336. In 2017, the maximum benefit payable to a worker retiring at full retirement age, or the age at which a person qualifies for 100% of his or her benefit, is \$2,687.

## What people really get in Social Security Income

In 2015, 2.8 million Americans were awarded Social Security benefits, and as you can see in the following chart, the amounts payable to them ranged widely. Over 217,000 Social Security recipients were awarded less than \$500 per month, and more than 433,000 were awarded north of \$2,100 per month.

Data source: Social Security Administration. Chart by author.

Across the entire universe of Social Security recipients, the amount pocketed also varies widely. Ignoring the two extremes of high- and low-income recipients, you see that most Americans are getting somewhere between \$750 per month and \$1,800 per month this year.

Data source: Social Security Administration. Chart by author.