Social Security was created at a time when the average life expectancy in America was just 51 to 65 years, depending on sex and race. At that time, living to age 80 was much less common than it is today, which is one of the many reasons that modifications to the program are a constant topic of discussion.
Regardless of age and era, Social Security was never intended to fully replace a worker’s income in retirement. Here’s a look at the current average Social Security benefit at age 80, along with suggestions as to how to maximize the amount you earn and buffer it with supplemental income.
The Average Social Security Benefit at Age 80
As of December 2021, the most recent year for which data is available, the average monthly Social Security benefit at age 80 was about $1,664. This is up 5.27% from December 2020, when the average benefit for an 80-year-old was $1,580.
The average benefit for all retired workers of any age was $1,658.03, almost identical to the average benefit at age 80.
How Waiting To File Can Boost Your Social Security Benefit
Waiting to file for Social Security can boost your benefit, but only from ages 62 to 70. Once you reach age 70, your benefit will no longer increase, no matter how long you wait to file. However, if you file at age 70 instead of age 62 (or any age in between), your benefit at age 80 will be higher than if you had filed earlier.
The comparison between filing at 62 and filing at 70 is most dramatic when you can look at real-world numbers. According to data from the Social Security Administration, as of December 2021, the average monthly benefit for 62-year-olds was $1,226. But for 70-year-olds, the average benefit was $1,769. That’s an increase of over 44%.
The reason for this is that every year you wait after age 62, your benefit increases. From full retirement age of 67 to age 70, the increase is an impressive 8% per year, or 24% between those two ages.
The Social Security Administration provides a representative example in its literature in which filing at age 62 vs. age 70 resulted in a 77% decrease in monthly benefits.
Ways To Boost Your Social Security Income
Waiting longer to file for your Social Security benefits is one of the two ways you can boost them. The other is to earn more money in your working career. The Social Security Administration calculates your payout based on the 35 highest-earning years of your career, up to the annual wage limit. For 2023, the Social Security wage base is $160,200, meaning any money you can earn up to that limit will help raise your Social Security benefit.
Other Steps To Take
For most retirees, a Social Security benefit isn’t enough money to live off comfortably. Knowing this ahead of time means you could and should start building a separate retirement nest egg as early as you can.
Investing even $300 per month at an 8% average annual return can provide you with a nest egg of over $1 million over 40 years, so socking away money as soon as you get your first full-time job is a good way to help support your Social Security income.
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