The amount you receive in Social Security is based on two factors: your earnings record and the age at which you file for benefits. But the amount you receive isn’t fixed for life.
Every year, the Social Security Administration adjusts payments based on the rate of inflation. This cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, goes into effect in January of each year and applies across the board to all recipients. But the average amount the SSA pays out to all recipients actually tends to change on a monthly basis, as more and more beneficiaries are added to the system.
If you’re already receiving a benefit, your payout won’t change until the next year’s COLA is announced. But it’s still helpful to look at what the average Social Security benefit is and how it changes over time.
What Was the Average Social Security Payment in Each Month of 2023?
As of December 2022, the average Social Security payment for retirees was $1,681. This jumped up to $1,825 for January 2023, thanks to the cost-of-living adjustment. Here’s what the Social Security Administration has now reported as the average payment for each month so far in 2023:
- January 2023: $1,779.16
- February 2023: $1,781.63
- March 2023: $1,833.23
- April 2023: $1,834.80
How Much Will the Average Social Security Payment Likely Be in Summer 2023?
There’s no way of predicting with accuracy the amount of the average Social Security payment in the summer months of 2023. However, based on the monthly trend from January-April 2023, a decent estimate for that number would be about $1,889.44. Bear in mind that this doesn’t mean that your payment will reach that number; it’s just the average amount that will be reported by the SSA. The payment that you received in January will remain fixed for the remainder of 2023.
How Much Was the COLA in 2022 and 2023?
After decades of meager cost-of-living adjustments, the Social Security Administration really pumped up payments for recipients in 2022 and 2023. This was in response to skyrocketing inflation rates, which hit 40-year highs in mid-2022. For 2022, the COLA was 5.9%, while the 2023 COLA hit 8.7%. This boosted the average monthly Social Security payment for retirees to $1,657 for 2022 and $1,825 for 2023.
What Are the Projections for the COLA in 2024?
With inflation falling throughout 2023, Social Security recipients should expect that their COLA will be significantly lower than in 2023, and perhaps even lower than what they received in 2022.
While it’s hard to know with certainty what inflation will do in the summer months of 2023, there are already projections out as to what the COLA will be in 2024. According to Mary Johnson, the Social Security and Medicare policy analyst for the Senior Citizens League, the 2024 COLA should be in the neighborhood of 3.1%. However, the official figure won’t be announced by the SSA until October 2023.
How Can You Maximize Your Social Security Payout?
If you’ve already drawing Social Security benefits, there’s not much you can do to increase them other than waiting for next year’s COLA. But if you’re still in the workforce, there are two primary ways to bump up your benefit.
The first is to maximize the amount you earn every year. The SSA calculates your benefit based on the 35 top-earning years of your working career, up to the annual wage base. In 2023, for example, the Social Security wage base is $160,200, so the more you earn up to that limit, the higher your benefit will ultimately be.
The second way to boost your payout is to delay filing for benefits. Full retirement age, or the age at which you’re entitled to your full Social Security benefit, is 67 for most workers. However, you can file for benefits as early as 62 or as late as 70. For each year you delay filing after age 67, your monthly payment amount will jump by a whopping 8%, to a maximum of 24% if you file at age 70.
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