What Is the Average Social Security Benefit at 65?

Ridofranz / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Ridofranz / Getty Images/iStockphoto

For most of the last century, 65 has been considered the standard retirement age in the United States, but that doesn’t mean most Americans actually retire at that age. In 1992, for example, the average retirement age in the U.S. was 62 for men and 59 for women, according to a Forbes report that cited data from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

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Since then, the average retirement age has ticked closer to what used to be considered the norm. In 2001, the average retirement age was 63 for men and 60 for women, and nine years later those averages rose to 64 and 62, respectively. In 2021, the average retirement age was 65 for men and 62 for women.

Of course, just because you retire at 65 doesn’t mean you have to start collecting Social Security benefits at that age. You can wait until as late as age 70 — something many Americans do, because the longer you wait, the higher your monthly payment.

For those who are collecting Social Security at age 65, the average payment in 2022 was about $2,484 a month, according to the Social Security Administration. That’s based on the agency’s estimate that the average annual benefit was $29,806 for Social Security recipients who are age 65. The average yearly benefit for 65-year-olds in 2023 has risen to $30,708, or $2,559 a month.

Those numbers are much higher than the average monthly benefit for all Social Security recipients, which was $1,546.59 as of August 2022, according to the SSA. The difference is due to a number of factors — including the fact that recipients younger than 65 typically get lower payments.

Average benefits for 65-year-olds have been on the rise for a couple of decades in terms of current dollars. But when you adjust for inflation, the payments have been moving lower in recent years. According to the SSA, the estimated average yearly benefit for recipients aged 65 in constant 2001 dollars is as follows:

  • 2020: $15,313

  • 2021: $15,269

  • 2022: $15,230

  • 2023: $15,189

  • 2024: $15,142

Although the SSA implements yearly cost-of-living adjustments to help beneficiaries deal with inflation, those adjustments aren’t always effective in combating the actual inflation rate. Look no further than 2022, when the COLA was 5.9% but the actual inflation rate was running above 8% for much of the year.

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If you are approaching age 65 and want to get an estimate of your Social Security benefits, the AARP recommends using its own Social Security Benefits Calculator or checking your online My Social Security account. The latter option bases the estimate on your earnings record on file with the SSA. With the AARP calculator, you’ll need to provide your average annual income.

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