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The Average Social Security Check the Year You Were Born

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Social Security has long been a cornerstone of American democracy. However, it has also undergone some dramatic changes in the over 80 years since its passage. While the core program remains unchanged — using present-day payroll taxes to provide cash payments to retirees — it has slowly become more and more connected to American society over the years, growing all the while to the enormous benefit you see today.

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But just how much have those benefits been worth? The truth is, the Social Security checks your great grandparents might have been receiving in the 1950s were much smaller. Even after accounting for inflation, benefits have tripled in size over the last 70 years.

So here’s a look at how benefits have changed over the decades, should there be some valuable lessons in Social Security’s past to tell us about what to expect from its future.

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1950

1951

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1955

1956

1957

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1959

1960

1961

1962

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1963

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1970

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1972

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1974

1975

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1976

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1986

1987

1988

Retire Comfortably

1989

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2001

Retire Comfortably

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2022

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Methodology: GOBankingRates used the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) “Annual Statistical Supplement, 2020” to find the average Social Security Check the year you were born. Using this report, GOBankingRates referenced Table 3.C4–Average monthly amount of Social Security (OASDI) to find: (1) the average monthly Social Security payment for retired workers (amount at the time), and then used the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI inflation calculator to find the (2) average monthly Social Security payment for retired workers (2020 dollars) for the years 1950 through 2019. Then, GOBankingRates used the SSA’s Beneficiary Data portal to find the average monthly benefit amount for retired workers for 2020, 2021 and 2022 in current dollars. All data was collected on and up to date as of April 20, 2022.