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How Much Will I Get from Social Security If I Make $100,000 -- or Some Other Income?

By Selena Maranjian - Nov 26, 2019 at 8:30AM

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You might be surprised at how much (or how little) you have coming to you from Social Security -- no matter how much you earn.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than a few careers with average salaries of $100,000 or more. They include financial analysts, electrical engineers, veterinarians, nurse practitioners, and astronomers. An income of $100,000 is well above the national average of $51,960 across all occupations that the government tracks, but it's not necessarily enough to ensure financial security for the rest of your life.

Thus, all of us, no matter what we earn, should get busy planning for our retirement, figuring out how much money we will need and how we'll get it. A key part of the puzzle is Social Security income, which provides about a third of all retirement income for elderly Americans. Here's a look at how you can learn what your Social Security benefits are likely to be -- whether you earn $100,000, less, or more.

Two red dice are near a torn piece of paper on which is printed the question will your Social Security be enough?

Image source: Getty Images.

Meet your "full retirement age"

In order to fully understand your options when it comes to your Social Security benefits, you'll need to know what your full retirement age is -- the age at which you can start collecting the full benefits to which you're entitled based on your earnings. It used to be 65 for all, but it's now 66 or 67 or somewhere in between for most folks. Find your full retirement age below:

Birth Year

Full Retirement Age

1937 or earlier

65

1938

65 and 2 months

1939

65 and 4 months

1940

65 and 6 months

1941

65 and 8 months

1942

65 and 10 months

1943-1954

66

1955

66 and 2 months

1956

66 and 4 months

1957

66 and 6 months

1958

66 and 8 months

1959

66 and 10 months

1960 and later

67

Source: Social Security Administration.

Timing is everything for your Social Security benefits

You can file to start collecting your Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62 and as late as age 70. Start earlier and your checks will be smaller; you'll collect bigger checks if you delay claiming benefits. But remember, you'll get many more of the smaller checks and fewer of the larger ones, so it's really mostly a wash if you live an average-length life.

The table below shows the percentage of your full retirement age benefits that you can expect to receive if you start collecting benefits early or late:

Start Collecting at:

Full Retirement Age of 66

Full Retirement Age of 67

62

75%

70%

63

80%

75%

64

86.7%

80%

65

93.3%

86.7%

66

100%

93.3%

67

108%

100%

68

116%

108%

69

124%

116%

70

132%

124%

Source: Social Security Administration.

Social Security benefits for the $100,000 earner

It's hard to pinpoint exact benefits for anyone without factoring in lots of details. For example, among a dozen people who each earn $100,000 per year, some would have had high incomes all their working lives, and others might have just jumped to a six-figure income. Some might be older with a long work history, and others might be young, with many years of work to go -- and unknown future earnings.

Below, then, is a rough idea of what you might expect in annual Social Security income if you're earning $100,000 now. It's based on an online calculator from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:

Born In

Age Today

Start Collecting Benefits at 62

Start Collecting Benefits at 67

Start Collecting Benefits at 70

1989

30

$23,580

$33,480

$41,520

1984

35

$23,472

$33,336

$41,340

1979

40

$23,232

$32,988

$40,908

1974

45

$22,860

$32,460

$40,248

1969

50

$22,380

$31,788

$39,420

1964

55

$21,816

$30,984

$38,424

1959

60

$21,660

$30,048

$38,052

Source: ConsumerFinance.gov.

Social Security benefits for everyone else

There's a good chance that you don't earn $100,000. To find out what kind of income you might expect from Social Security, you can click into the calculator linked above, or plug your particulars into the Social Security website's own online calculator.

Those will still just be rough estimates, though. For best results, create a my Social Security account on the Social Security Administration (SSA) website. Once you do, you'll be able to log in any time and see the SSA's record of your earnings for all your working years (giving you a chance to spot any errors and have them fixed), as well as estimates of the benefits you have coming to you. Those estimates should be pretty good, too, as they'll be based on your actual earnings history.

Meanwhile, it's a good idea to know what average retirees receive: The average Social Security retirement benefit was recently $1,477 per month, or nearly $17,800 per year.

Best of all, know that these numbers are not the final answer. You can beef up your future benefits by earning more and more in the coming years. There are other ways that you can increase your Social Security benefits, too.

The more you know about Social Security, the more you'll likely be able to get out of the program -- and the more financially secure your future will be.

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