The Average Payment for 9 Types of Social Security Recipients

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Have you ever wondered what the “normal” Social Security benefit amount might be?

How much you made in your 35 highest-earning years, the age at which you retire and your spouse’s work history are major factors in calculating your retirement benefit, as we explain in “7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now.”

That means your benefit amount, of course, is a very personalized number. But the Social Security Administration publishes data on average benefits for different groups. Following is a look at Social Security benefits as of July 2023.

Retired workers

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Number of beneficiaries: 49.4 million (74% of all Social Security beneficiaries)

Average monthly benefit: $1,837

The broadest category is of course people retired from work. They currently make up roughly three-quarters of all beneficiaries, and they receive the highest average benefit amount.

Spouses of retirees

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Number of beneficiaries: 1.96 million (2.9% of all Social Security beneficiaries)

Average monthly benefit: $893

These folks are receiving “spousal benefits,” which provide them with up to half of a husband or wife’s monthly benefit amount regardless of how much they’ve worked themselves.

Spouses can take whichever benefit is higher between their own or the spousal benefit amount — but not both — starting as early as age 62. Even divorced individuals, if they meet certain criteria, can receive this benefit.

Children of retired workers

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Number of beneficiaries: 685,000 (1% of all Social Security beneficiaries)

Average monthly benefit: $860

Fewer than 1 million people currently receive this type of benefit — which is available to children of living retirees — in part because of the age restrictions. A child can receive up to 50% of the parent’s full benefits.

There are three groups that qualify as child beneficiaries:

  • Minor children (under age 18)
  • High school students up to age 19 years and 2 months
  • Adults with a disability that began before age 22

The last group, disabled adult children, can be age 18 or older — the key is when their disability began.

Children of deceased workers

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Number of beneficiaries: 2 million (3% of all Social Security beneficiaries)

Average monthly benefit: $1,069

This group encompasses the same three child beneficiary groups as children of retired workers.

  • Minor children (under age 18)
  • High school students up to age 19 years and 2 months
  • Adults disabled before the age of 22

The difference is that their benefits are based on the Social Security record of a parent who has died, and they can receive up to 75% of that parent’s benefit amount.

Widowed mothers and fathers

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Number of beneficiaries: 107,000 (0.2% of all Social Security beneficiaries)

Average monthly benefit: $1,232

This rare category includes a “surviving spouse at any age who is caring for the deceased’s child who is under age 16 or has a disability and receiving child’s benefits.”

Nondisabled widows and widowers

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Number of beneficiaries: 3.5 million (5.3% of all Social Security beneficiaries)

Average monthly benefit: $1,713

It’s also possible to receive benefits from a spouse who has died regardless of whether you have children. This is the most common type of what is known as a survivor benefit.

Unlike the spousal benefit, survivor benefits can be as much as 100% of a late spouse’s benefit. Again, divorced spouses may be eligible. These benefits can generally start as early as age 60, although as with regular retirement benefits, taking survivor benefits early will result in a reduced monthly payment.

Disabled widows and widowers

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Number of beneficiaries: 208,000 (0.3% of all Social Security beneficiaries)

Average monthly benefit: $895

Disabled surviving spouses of a certain age may also be eligible for monthly benefits. People in this category are at least 50 years old and have a disability that started before or within seven years of the worker’s death.

Parents of deceased workers

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Number of beneficiaries: 1,000 (Less than 0.05% of all Social Security beneficiaries)

Average monthly benefit: $1,538

This is by far the rarest type of Social Security benefit. To qualify, you must:

  • Be at least age 62
  • Survive a child who was providing at least half of your financial support
  • Not qualify for any higher benefit than what can be received from your child’s Social Security record
  • With some exceptions, not have married after your child’s death

Disabled workers

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Number of beneficiaries: 7.5 million (11.3% of all Social Security beneficiaries)

Average monthly benefit: $1,486

To be eligible for disability benefits, workers must have earned a certain number of Social Security credits based on their age. Up to four credits are awarded each year to workers who have sufficient earnings. People must also be deemed unable to continue employment because of a long-lasting or permanent medical condition.

Spouses and children of disabled workers may also be eligible for benefits.

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