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 2020 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 2020 InitialIn 2020 InitialIn 2020 InitialIn 2020
1987 $2,205 $666 $1,533 $2,009 $789 $1,815 $1,955 $806 $1,855 $1,725 $1,056 $2,431
1988 2,311 691 1,526 2,139 838 1,851 2,089 860 1,900 1,859 1,080 2,385
1989 2,490 739 1,568 2,287 899 1,909 2,217 911 1,935 2,000 1,063 2,258
1990 2,648 780 1,581 2,417 975 1,977 2,368 984 1,996 2,154 1,085 2,200
1991 2,792 815 1,568 2,531 1,022 1,967 2,502 1,079 2,076 2,332 1,163 2,239
1992 2,978 860 1,595 2,716 1,088 2,020 2,617 1,113 2,066 2,470 1,231 2,285
1993 3,154 899 1,621 2,878 1,128 2,033 2,801 1,181 2,128 2,605 1,289 2,322
1994 3,384 954 1,675 3,024 1,147 2,014 2,963 1,219 2,141 2,758 1,358 2,385
1995 3,493 972 1,661 3,219 1,199 2,048 3,112 1,248 2,132 2,896 1,474 2,517
1996 3,657 1,006 1,676 3,402 1,248 2,079 3,306 1,300 2,165 3,012 1,501 2,499
1997 3,877 1,056 1,709 3,634 1,326 2,146 3,490 1,364 2,208 3,189 1,609 2,605
1998 4,144 1,117 1,771 3,750 1,342 2,128 3,724 1,437 2,279 3,348 1,648 2,611
1999 4,463 1,191 1,864 3,926 1,373 2,148 3,847 1,451 2,271 3,496 1,684 2,635
2000 4,775 1,248 1,905 4,161 1,435 2,191 4,031 1,502 2,293 3,707 1,752 2,675
2001 5,126 1,314 1,938 4,440 1,538 2,268 4,272 1,593 2,350 3,912 1,879 2,771
2002 5,499 1,382 1,987 4,770 1,660 2,387 4,555 1,692 2,433 4,165 1,988 2,858
2003 5,729 1,412 2,001 5,099 1,721 2,441 4,890 1,814 2,572 4,321 2,045 2,900
2004 5,892 1,422 1,975 5,457 1,784 2,478 5,219 1,894 2,631 4,532 2,111 2,932
2005 6,137 1,452 1,964 5,827 1,874 2,534 5,574 1,982 2,680 4,786 2,252 3,045
2006 6,515 1,530 1,988 6,058 1,961 2,548 5,940 2,108 2,738 5,072 2,420 3,144
2007 6,852 1,598 2,009 6,229 1,998 2,513 6,177 2,194 2,759 5,406 2,672 3,361
2008 7,260 1,682 2,067 6,479 2,030 2,496 6,350 2,212 2,720 5,733 2,794 3,435
2009 7,685 1,769 2,056 6,861 2,172 2,524 6,606 2,323 2,700 6,090 3,054 3,549
2010 7,949 1,820 2,114 7,189 2,191 2,546 6,976 2,346 2,726 6,450 3,119 3,624
2011 7,928 1,803 2,095 7,579 2,249 2,613 7,299 2,366 2,749 6,683 3,193 3,710
2012 8,199 1,855 2,081 7,973 2,310 2,591 7,680 2,513 2,819 6,852 3,266 3,663
2013 8,539 1,923 2,121 8,230 2,414 2,662 8,074 2,533 2,794 7,095 3,350 3,695
2014 8,890 1,992 2,165 8,229 2,431 2,642 8,335 2,642 2,871 7,452 3,425 3,722
2015 9,066 2,025 2,163 8,479 2,452 2,619 8,314 2,663 2,846 7,747 3,501 3,740
2016 9,431 2,102 2,246 8,782 2,491 2,662 8,556 2,639 2,820 8,090 3,576 3,821
2017 9,784 2,153 2,294 9,076 2,542 2,708 8,843 2,687 2,862 8,426 3,538 3,769
2018 9,936 2,158 2,254 9,243 2,589 2,704 9,144 2,788 2,912 8,649 3,698 3,862
2019 10,296 2,209 2,245 9,578 2,757 2,801 9,300 2,861 2,906 8,635 3,770 3,830
2020 10,683 2,265 2,265 9,919 2,857 2,857 9,636 3,011 3,011 8,864 3,790 3,790
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 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.
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.