Is There A Maximum Amount You Can Receive From Social Security?

Aug 22 2019 - 9:28am

I am 66 and currently have a retirement of around $43,500 with SSA at age 70 if I continue with the same income. I plan on working until 70. Is there a maximum amount you can Receive from SSA? It seems to max out at $45,000 per year. Or if I increase my salary will I be able to receive more than $45,000 per year?

Hi,

Not really. There is a maximum possible benefit rate that you could qualify for, but that maximum is only temporary and is different for each year of birth. To explain, a person's base benefit rate is their primary insurance amount (PIA), which is the amount they would be paid if they start drawing their Social Security retirement benefit at full retirement age (FRA). A person's PIA is calculated based on an average of their highest 35 years of wage indexed earnings (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10070.pdf). The indexing factors used are different for each year of birth, so a person born in 1952 could have a different PIA from someone born in 1953 even if they had exactly the same earnings history.

Therefore, a person with the highest possible average wage indexed earnings for 35 years would have the maximum possible PIA for their year of birth. However, if they continue working and earn more in a future year than they did in one of their previous highest 35 wage indexed earnings years, their PIA would increase. And so on for as long as they continue working. There's no limit on how much the PIA could theoretically increase to, other than the constraints imposed by the maximum wage amount that's subject to Social Security taxes.

As I mentioned above, though, a person only receives a Social Security retirement benefit rate equal to their PIA if they start drawing at FRA. If they start drawing before FRA their rate is reduced for age, and if they start drawing after FRA their rate is increased by delayed retirement credits (DRC). If a person whose FRA is age 66 starts drawing at age 70 they would receive the maximum number of DRCs, which would increase their rate to 32% above their PIA. So, if you file at age 70 and have the highest possible 35 year wage indexed earnings average up to that point in time, you would receive the maximum possible benefit rate for someone born in your year of birth. But, if you continue working after that you could potentially continue to increase your benefit rate indefinitely.

Best, Jerry