Automatic Determinations

Benefit Computation

Primary Insurance Amount

Wage-indexed amounts

Social Security benefits depend on earnings
The amount of a person's retirement benefit depends primarily on his or her lifetime earnings. We index such earnings (that is, convert past earnings to approximately their equivalent values near the time of the person's retirement) using the national average wage index. See how we use earnings to compute a retirement benefit amount.

Benefit Examples For Workers With Maximum-Taxable Earnings
The initial benefit amounts shown in the table below assume retirement in January of the stated year, with maximum-taxable earnings since age 22. Benefits in 2021 reflect subsequent automatic benefit increases (if any). The table shows Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME)—an amount that summarizes a person's earnings—and the corresponding monthly benefit amounts. Retirement at age 70 produces the highest ratio of retirement benefit to AIME.

Worker with steady earnings at the maximum level since age 22
Retirement in Jan. Retirement at age 62 a/ Retirement at age 65 b/ Retirement at age 66 c/ Retirement at age 70 d/
AIMEMonthly benefits AIMEMonthly benefits AIMEMonthly benefits AIMEMonthly benefits
InitialIn 2021 InitialIn 2021 InitialIn 2021 InitialIn 2021
1987 $2,205 $666 $1,553 $2,009 $789 $1,838 $1,955 $806 $1,879 $1,725 $1,056 $2,462
1988 2,311 691 1,546 2,139 838 1,875 2,089 860 1,924 1,859 1,080 2,416
1989 2,490 739 1,589 2,287 899 1,934 2,217 911 1,960 2,000 1,063 2,287
1990 2,648 780 1,602 2,417 975 2,002 2,368 984 2,021 2,154 1,085 2,228
1991 2,792 815 1,589 2,531 1,022 1,993 2,502 1,079 2,103 2,332 1,163 2,268
1992 2,978 860 1,616 2,716 1,088 2,046 2,617 1,113 2,092 2,470 1,231 2,314
1993 3,154 899 1,642 2,878 1,128 2,060 2,801 1,181 2,156 2,605 1,289 2,352
1994 3,384 954 1,697 3,024 1,147 2,040 2,963 1,219 2,169 2,758 1,358 2,416
1995 3,493 972 1,682 3,219 1,199 2,074 3,112 1,248 2,160 2,896 1,474 2,550
1996 3,657 1,006 1,697 3,402 1,248 2,106 3,306 1,300 2,193 3,012 1,501 2,532
1997 3,877 1,056 1,731 3,634 1,326 2,174 3,490 1,364 2,236 3,189 1,609 2,638
1998 4,144 1,117 1,793 3,750 1,342 2,155 3,724 1,437 2,308 3,348 1,648 2,645
1999 4,463 1,191 1,889 3,926 1,373 2,176 3,847 1,451 2,300 3,496 1,684 2,669
2000 4,775 1,248 1,930 4,161 1,435 2,219 4,031 1,502 2,323 3,707 1,752 2,710
2001 5,126 1,314 1,963 4,440 1,538 2,297 4,272 1,593 2,381 3,912 1,879 2,807
2002 5,499 1,382 2,013 4,770 1,660 2,418 4,555 1,692 2,465 4,165 1,988 2,895
2003 5,729 1,412 2,027 5,099 1,721 2,472 4,890 1,814 2,605 4,321 2,045 2,937
2004 5,892 1,422 2,001 5,457 1,784 2,510 5,219 1,894 2,665 4,532 2,111 2,970
2005 6,137 1,452 1,990 5,827 1,874 2,567 5,574 1,982 2,715 4,786 2,252 3,085
2006 6,515 1,530 2,014 6,058 1,961 2,581 5,940 2,108 2,774 5,072 2,420 3,185
2007 6,852 1,598 2,035 6,229 1,998 2,546 6,177 2,194 2,795 5,406 2,672 3,404
2008 7,260 1,682 2,094 6,479 2,030 2,528 6,350 2,212 2,755 5,733 2,794 3,479
2009 7,685 1,769 2,082 6,861 2,172 2,556 6,606 2,323 2,735 6,090 3,054 3,595
2010 7,949 1,820 2,142 7,189 2,191 2,579 6,976 2,346 2,762 6,450 3,119 3,671
2011 7,928 1,803 2,122 7,579 2,249 2,647 7,299 2,366 2,785 6,683 3,193 3,758
2012 8,199 1,855 2,108 7,973 2,310 2,625 7,680 2,513 2,856 6,852 3,266 3,710
2013 8,539 1,923 2,148 8,230 2,414 2,697 8,074 2,533 2,830 7,095 3,350 3,743
2014 8,890 1,992 2,193 8,229 2,431 2,676 8,335 2,642 2,908 7,452 3,425 3,770
2015 9,066 2,025 2,192 8,479 2,452 2,653 8,314 2,663 2,883 7,747 3,501 3,789
2016 9,431 2,102 2,275 8,782 2,491 2,697 8,556 2,639 2,856 8,090 3,576 3,870
2017 9,784 2,153 2,324 9,076 2,542 2,743 8,843 2,687 2,899 8,426 3,538 3,818
2018 9,936 2,158 2,283 9,243 2,589 2,739 9,144 2,788 2,950 8,649 3,698 3,912
2019 10,296 2,209 2,274 9,578 2,757 2,838 9,300 2,861 2,944 8,635 3,770 3,880
2020 10,683 2,265 2,294 9,919 2,857 2,894 9,636 3,011 3,050 8,864 3,790 3,840
2021 11,098 2,324 2,324 10,074 2,841 2,841 9,979 3,113 3,113 9,150 3,895 3,895
a Retirement at age 62 is assumed here to be at exact age 62 and 1 month. Such early retirement results in a reduced monthly benefit.
b Retirement at age 65 is assumed to be at exact age 65 and 0 months. For retirement in 2003 and later, the monthly benefit is reduced for early retirement. (For people born before 1938, age 65 is the normal retirement age. Normal retirement age will gradually increase to age 67.)
c Retirement at age 66 is assumed to be at exact age 66 and 0 months. Age 66 is the normal retirement age for people born in 1943-54. People who retired at age 66 and who were born before 1943 received delayed retirement credits; those born after 1954 will have their benefits reduced for early retirement. Thus, for retirement in 2021 and later, the monthly benefit is reduced for early retirement.
d Retirement at age 70 maximizes the effect of delayed retirement credits.

Note: Initial monthly benefits paid at ages 65, 66, and 70 in 2000-2001 were slightly lower than the amounts shown above because such initial benefits were partially based on a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for December 1999 that was originally determined as 2.4 percent based on CPIs published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pursuant to Public Law 106-554, however, this COLA is effectively now 2.5 percent, and the above figures reflect the benefit change required by this legislation.