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Why a $4,194 Monthly Social Security Benefit May Not Be Enough

In 2022, some seniors are receiving a $4,194 monthly Social Security benefit, the maximum available. But not many. According to the Social Security Administration, the average monthly benefit for retirees in 2022 is $1,623. The maximum Social Security benefit might sound like a huge amount, but even if you are getting this much, chances are it's not nearly enough to make ends meet. $4,194 a month isn't as generous as it sounds The harsh reality about Social Security benefits is that they are meant to replace only around 40% of pre-retirement income. And for some people, they replace a much smaller percentage. Your benefits are calculated based on average earnings during the 35 years when your wages were highest (after adjusting for inflation). To be eligible for a $4,194 Social Security check, you would have needed to earn the maximum income that is subject to Social Security tax for a period of at least 35 years. And then, you would have had to wait until age 70 to maximize delayed retirement credits. Each year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) sets the maximum taxable income, called the wage base limit. In 2022, it's $147,000. The SSA regularly adjusts the limit for inflation, but as you can see, it's very high, relatively speaking. If you earned less than the wage base limit in any one of the 35 years that count in your formula, you're ineligible for a $4,194 benefit. If you earned more than the wage base limit in any given year, those wages won't offset any years when you didn't reach the limit. If you're used to earning the inflation-adjusted equivalent of $147,000 or more for 35 years, suddenly dropping to $50,328 per year (the equivalent of $4,194 per month) would be a huge pay cut. You probably would not want to reduce your standard of living by so much, which is why the max benefit wouldn't be enough even though it's much more than most seniors get (the average monthly benefit is $1,669). Everyone needs savings to supplement Social Security Understanding how much you would need to earn to max out your Social Security checks is helpful for a few reasons. First, it underscores the fact that most people are going to get much less than the maximum benefit. Unless you earn the inflation-adjusted equivalent of $147,000 for 35 years and claim Social Security at 70 to max out your delayed retirement credits, that maximum benefit is a fantasy for you. And the bigger the gap between your earnings and $147,000, the smaller your retirement check will be relative to the maximum. Most people can expect to receive closer to the average benefit, clearly not enough to live on without extra money coming in. Second, it shows that even when a Social Security benefit sounds large, any retiree who tries to depend on it alone is going to take a huge pay cut. You cannot live on 40% or less of what you once made. So be sure to start saving and investing throughout your career -- using tax advantaged accounts like a 401(k) and IRA -- so you don't have to try. The $18,984 Social Security bonus most retirees completely overlook If you're like most Americans, you're a few years (or more) behind on your retirement savings. But a handful of little-known "Social Security secrets" could help ensure a boost in your retirement income. For example: one easy trick could pay you as much as $18,984 more... each year! Once you learn how to maximize your Social Security benefits, we think you could retire confidently with the peace of mind we're all after. Simply click here to discover how to learn more about these strategies. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc. Founded in 1993 in Alexandria, VA., by brothers David and Tom Gardner, The Motley Fool is a multimedia financial-services company dedicated to building the world's greatest investment community. Reaching millions of people each month through its website, books, newspaper column, radio show, television appearances, and subscription newsletter services, The Motley Fool champions shareholder values and advocates tirelessly for the individual investor. The company's name was taken from Shakespeare, whose wise fools both instructed and amused, and could speak the truth to the king -- without getting their heads lopped off. Today’s Big Picture Asia-Pacific equity indexes ended today’s session down across the board. India’s Sensex ended the day essentially flat, down 0.06%, China’s Shanghai Composite and Australia’s ASX All Ordinaries declined 0.54% and 0.55%, respectively while Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.65%, Taiwan’s TAIEX dropped 0.74% and South Korea’s KOSPI declined 0.90%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng led the way, down 1.96% on a broad selloff led by Health Technology and Health Services names while Transportation and Communications sectors provided the only relief. By mid-day trading, major European equity indices are down across the board and U.S. futures point to a positive open later this morning. At 8:30 AM ET, the much anticipated July Consumer Price Index (CPI) report was released: The headline figure for the month was expected to fall to 8.7% from June’s blistering 9.1% reading with core CPI that excludes food and energy ticking higher to 6.1% in July vs. 6.0% the prior month. The actual numbers show that inflation hit 8.5%, and core inflation was 5.9%. With the national average retail price for a gallon of gas falling through late June and July from its June 14 high of $5.016 per gallon per data from AAA, forecasters had expected the month over month decline in the headline CPI for July. The July Employment Report also showed wage inflation ran hotter than expected during the month. Let’s also keep in mind that we will be facing a “wash, rinse, repeat” cycle when it comes to inflation data and expectations for the Fed given tomorrow’s July Producer Price Index report. Data Download International Economy Producer prices in Japan rose by 8.6% YoY in July, compared with market forecasts of 8.4% and following an upwardly revised 9.4% the prior month. While marking the 17th straight month of producer inflation, the latest reading was the softest since last December. China's annual inflation rate rose to 2.7% in July from 2.5% in June and compared with market forecasts of 2.9% but even so the July figure marked the highest reading in the last year. The country’s Producer Price Inflation figure for July eased to a 17-month low of 4.2% YoY from 6.1% the prior month and less than the market consensus of 4.8%. Annual inflation rate in Germany was confirmed at 7.5% YoY for the month of July, down slightly from June’s 7.6% reading but still above the March and April figures of 7.3%-7.4%. The annual inflation rate in Italy slowed to 7.9% YoY in July from June’s 8% reading matching expectations for the month. While energy prices declined, prices for food and transportation rose at a faster pace. Domestic Economy This morning we have the usual Wednesday weekly reports for MBA Mortgage Applications and Crude Oil Inventories from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. At 10 AM ET, Wholesale Inventories for June will be published, and the figure is expected to rise 1.9%. While investors and economists will keep more than a passing interest in those reports and data, as we discussed above, it will be the July Consumer Price Index report at 8:30 AM ET that will shape not only how the US stock market opens today, but also expectations for the Fed’s next course of monetary policy action. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects domestic production of crude oil, natural gas and coal will all increase next year compared with this year. It forecast US crude production rising 6.7% to an all-time annual high 12.7M bbl/day in 2023 from 11.9M bbl/day in 2022, US natural gas output climbing to 100B cubic feet (cf)/day from 97B cf/day, and US coal production inching up to 601M short tons in 2023 from an expected 599M this year. The EIA also modestly increased its 2022 average nationwide gasoline price forecast to $4.07/gallon vs. $4.05 if called for last month. It now also sees 2023 prices at $3.59/GAL vs. its previous forecast of $3.57. Markets Stocks continued in their holding pattern waiting for the latest CPI print save for some fundamental stories pushing Technology names and small caps around. The Dow and the S&P 500 were down slightly at 0.18% and 0.42%, respectively while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.19% and the Russell 2000 closed down 1.46% on the day. Energy names led the way yesterday but were overpowered by Technology and Consumer Discretionary sectors. Here’s how the major market indicators stack up year-to-date: Dow Jones Industrial Average: -9.81% S&P 500: -13.51% Nasdaq Composite: -20.14% Russell 2000: -15.83% Bitcoin (BTC-USD): -52.08% Ether (ETH-USD): -55.38% Stocks to Watch Before trading kicks off, CyberArk (CYBR), Fox Corp. (FOXA), Jack in the Box (JACK), Nomad Foods (NOMD), Vita Coco (COCO), Tufin Software (TUFN), and Wendy’s (WEN) will be among the companies issuing their latest quarterly results and guidance. At 9 AM ET, Samsung (SSNLF) will hold its Galaxy Unpacked 2022 at which it is expected to introduce new Galaxy foldable smartphone models, a new Galaxy Watch, and Galaxy Buds. Shares of advertising technology platform company The Trade Desk (TTD) jumped after the company reported quarterly results that topped expectations and guided current quarter revenue above the consensus forecast. The RealReal (REAL) reported a smaller than expected bottom line loss for its June quarter as revenue for the period rose 47.2% YoY to %154.44 million, topping the $153.99 million consensus. However, the company issued downside guidance for both the current quarter and 2022. Revenue for the September quarter is now expected to be $145-$155 million vs. the $164.3 million consensus; for the full year of 2022, revenue is forecasted to be $615-$635 million vs. the $653.7 million consensus. Shares of Coinbase Global (COIN) moved lower after it reported June quarter results that missed top and bottom line expectations. Revenue for the quarter fell 63.7% YoY as Total trading volume fell 53.0% YoY and 29.8% sequentially to $217 billion. Monthly Transacting Users (MTUs) grew 2.3% YoY but fell 2.2% sequentially to 9.0 million. For the current quarter, Coinbase sees the number of MTUs trending lower sequentially and total trading volume to be lower compared to the June quarter. Shares of Sweetgreen (SG) tumbled in aftermarket trading last night after the company missed quarterly revenue expectations, lowered its 2022 forecast, announced it will lay off 5% of its workforce, and downsize to smaller offices. ChipMOS TECHNOLOGIES (IMOS) reported its July revenue was $65.1 million, a decrease of 19.4% YoY and down 7.7% MoM. Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM) reported its July revenue increased 49.9% YoY to NT$186.76 billion, which equates to a 6.2% MoM improvement. Electric vehicle subscription startup Autonomy placed a $1.2 billion order for 23K electric vehicles with 17 global automakers, including BMW (BMWYY), Canoo (GOEV), Fisker (FSR), Ford (F), General Motors (GM), Hyundai (HYMTF), Lucid Group (LCID), Mercedes-Benz (DDAIF), Polestar (PSNY), Rivian (RIVN), Stellantis (STLA), Subaru (FUJHY), Tesla (TSLA), Toyota Motor (TM), VinFast, Volvo Car (VLVOF) and Volkswagen (VLKAF). IPOs As of now, no IPOs are slated to be priced this week. Readers looking to dig more into the upcoming IPO calendar should visit Nasdaq’s Latest & Upcoming IPOs page. After Today’s Market Close Bumble (BMBL), CACI International (CACI), Coherent (COHR), Dutch Bros. (BROS), Red Robin Gourmet (RRGB), and Walt Disney (DIS) are expected to report their quarterly results after equities stop trading today. Those looking for more on which companies are reporting when, head on over to Nasdaq’s Earnings Calendar. On the Horizon Thursday, August 11 Germany: Thomson Reuters Ipsos Monthly Global Primary Consumer Sentiment Index - August US: Weekly Initial & Continuing Jobless Claims US: Producer Price Index – July US: Weekly EIA Natural Gas Inventories Friday, August 12 Japan: Thomson Reuters Ipsos Monthly Global Primary Consumer Sentiment Index - August China: China Thomson Reuters Ipsos Monthly Global Primary Consumer Sentiment Index - August Eurozone: Industrial Production - June US: Import/Export Prices – July US: University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index (Preliminary) – August Thought for the Day “The release date is just one day, but the record is forever.” ~ Bruce Springsteen Disclosures Tufin Software (TUFN), CyberArk (CYBR) are constituents of the Foxberry Tematica Research Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Index Canoo (GOEV), Fisker (FSR), Lucid Group (LCID), Rivian (RIVN), Tesla (TSLA), Vita Coco (COCO) are constituents of the Tematica BITA Cleaner Living Index Canoo (GOEV), Fisker (FSR), Lucid Group (LCID), Rivian (RIVN), Tesla (TSLA), Vita Coco (COCO) are constituents of the Tematica BITA Cleaner Living Sustainability Screened Index The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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