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 2017 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 2017 InitialIn 2017 InitialIn 2017 InitialIn 2017
1987 $2,205 $666 $1,439 $2,009 $789 $1,704 $1,955 $835 $1,803 $1,725 $1,056 $2,282
1988 2,311 691 1,433 2,139 838 1,737 2,089 891 1,847 1,859 1,080 2,239
1989 2,490 739 1,472 2,287 899 1,792 2,217 944 1,881 2,000 1,063 2,119
1990 2,648 780 1,484 2,417 975 1,855 2,368 1,019 1,940 2,154 1,085 2,065
1991 2,792 815 1,472 2,531 1,022 1,847 2,502 1,112 2,009 2,332 1,163 2,102
1992 2,978 860 1,498 2,716 1,088 1,896 2,617 1,147 1,998 2,470 1,231 2,145
1993 3,154 899 1,521 2,878 1,128 1,909 2,801 1,212 2,049 2,605 1,289 2,179
1994 3,384 954 1,573 3,024 1,147 1,891 2,963 1,250 2,062 2,758 1,358 2,239
1995 3,493 972 1,559 3,219 1,199 1,922 3,112 1,274 2,043 2,896 1,474 2,363
1996 3,657 1,006 1,573 3,402 1,248 1,952 3,306 1,327 2,075 3,012 1,501 2,346
1997 3,877 1,056 1,604 3,634 1,326 2,015 3,490 1,386 2,105 3,189 1,609 2,445
1998 4,144 1,117 1,662 3,750 1,342 1,997 3,724 1,460 2,173 3,348 1,648 2,451
1999 4,463 1,191 1,750 3,926 1,373 2,016 3,847 1,467 2,155 3,496 1,684 2,474
2000 4,775 1,248 1,788 4,161 1,435 2,056 4,031 1,519 2,177 3,707 1,752 2,511
2001 5,126 1,314 1,819 4,440 1,538 2,129 4,272 1,603 2,220 3,912 1,879 2,601
2002 5,499 1,382 1,866 4,770 1,660 2,240 4,555 1,703 2,299 4,165 1,988 2,683
2003 5,729 1,412 1,879 5,099 1,721 2,291 4,890 1,817 2,418 4,321 2,045 2,722
2004 5,892 1,422 1,854 5,457 1,784 2,326 5,219 1,897 2,473 4,532 2,111 2,752
2005 6,137 1,452 1,844 5,827 1,874 2,379 5,574 1,977 2,510 4,786 2,252 2,859
2006 6,515 1,530 1,866 6,058 1,961 2,392 5,940 2,105 2,566 5,072 2,420 2,952
2007 6,852 1,598 1,886 6,229 1,998 2,359 6,177 2,188 2,583 5,406 2,672 3,154
2008 7,260 1,682 1,940 6,479 2,030 2,343 6,350 2,209 2,550 5,733 2,794 3,224
2009 7,685 1,769 1,930 6,861 2,172 2,369 6,606 2,323 2,534 6,090 3,054 3,331
2010 7,949 1,820 1,985 7,189 2,191 2,390 6,976 2,346 2,559 6,450 3,119 3,402
2011 7,928 1,803 1,967 7,579 2,249 2,453 7,299 2,366 2,580 6,683 3,193 3,482
2012 8,199 1,855 1,953 7,973 2,310 2,432 7,680 2,513 2,646 6,852 3,266 3,438
2013 8,539 1,923 1,991 8,230 2,414 2,499 8,074 2,533 2,623 7,095 3,350 3,469
2014 8,890 1,992 2,032 8,229 2,431 2,480 8,335 2,642 2,695 7,452 3,425 3,494
2015 9,066 2,025 2,031 8,479 2,452 2,459 8,314 2,663 2,671 7,747 3,501 3,511
2016 9,431 2,102 2,108 8,782 2,491 2,499 8,556 2,639 2,647 8,090 3,576 3,586
2017 9,784 2,153 2,153 9,076 2,542 2,542 8,843 2,687 2,687 8,426 3,538 3,538
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.