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 2015 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 1/ Retirement at age 65 2/ Retirement at age 70 3/
AIME Monthly benefits AIME Monthly benefits AIME Monthly benefits
At age 62 In 2015 At age 65 In 2015 At age 70 In 2015
1987 $2,205 $666 $1,435 $2,009 $789 $1,699 $1,725 $1,056 $2,275
1988 2,311 691 1,428 2,139 838 1,732 1,859 1,080 2,232
1989 2,490 739 1,468 2,287 899 1,787 2,000 1,063 2,113
1990 2,648 780 1,480 2,417 975 1,850 2,154 1,085 2,059
1991 2,792 815 1,468 2,531 1,022 1,841 2,332 1,163 2,095
1992 2,978 860 1,493 2,716 1,088 1,890 2,470 1,231 2,138
1993 3,154 899 1,517 2,878 1,128 1,903 2,605 1,289 2,173
1994 3,384 954 1,568 3,024 1,147 1,885 2,758 1,358 2,232
1995 3,493 972 1,554 3,219 1,199 1,917 2,896 1,474 2,356
1996 3,657 1,006 1,568 3,402 1,248 1,946 3,012 1,501 2,339
1997 3,877 1,056 1,600 3,634 1,326 2,009 3,189 1,609 2,438
1998 4,144 1,117 1,657 3,750 1,342 1,991 3,348 1,648 2,444
1999 4,463 1,191 1,745 3,926 1,373 2,010 3,496 1,684 2,466
2000 4,775 1,248 1,783 4,161 1,435 2,050 3,707 1,752 2,504
2001 5,126 1,314 1,814 4,440 1,538 2,123 3,912 1,879 2,593
2002 5,499 1,382 1,860 4,770 1,660 2,234 4,165 1,988 2,675
2003 5,729 1,412 1,873 5,099 1,721 2,284 4,321 2,045 2,714
2004 5,892 1,422 1,849 5,457 1,784 2,319 4,532 2,111 2,744
2005 6,137 1,452 1,838 5,827 1,874 2,372 4,786 2,252 2,850
2006 6,515 1,530 1,861 6,058 1,961 2,385 5,072 2,420 2,943
2007 6,852 1,598 1,881 6,229 1,998 2,352 5,406 2,672 3,145
2008 7,260 1,682 1,935 6,479 2,030 2,336 5,733 2,794 3,215
2009 7,685 1,769 1,924 6,861 2,172 2,362 6,090 3,054 3,321
2010 7,949 1,820 1,979 7,189 2,191 2,383 6,450 3,119 3,392
2011 7,928 1,803 1,961 7,579 2,249 2,446 6,683 3,193 3,472
2012 8,199 1,855 1,948 7,973 2,310 2,425 6,852 3,266 3,428
2013 8,539 1,923 1,985 8,230 2,414 2,492 7,095 3,350 3,458
2014 8,890 1,992 2,026 8,229 2,431 2,473 7,452 3,425 3,483
2015 9,066 2,025 2,025 8,479 2,452 2,452 7,747 3,501 3,501
1 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.
2 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.)
3 Retirement at age 70 maximizes the effect of delayed retirement credits.

Note: Initial monthly benefits paid at ages 65 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.