Retirees depend mightily on Social Security payments.
These stipends make up 50% or more of income for about half of seniors, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says. About one-quarter of seniors depend on Social Security for at least 90% of their income.
For people of color, these payments can be even more crucial, the center notes. Black and Latino workers have, on average, lower lifetime earnings and higher rates of disability than white workers.
Social Security payments can vary widely from one location to another, however.
A recent MoneyWise analysis shows that the average 2020 Social Security benefit in each state, for example, varies from as little as about $17,000 per year to more than $20,000 per year.
For its analysis, the personal finance site started with the average monthly benefit for a retired worker in each state during 2018. Then, it increased those amounts by 2.8% to account for the cost-of-living increase, or COLA, that Social Security recipients received for 2019, and then by 1.6% to account for the smaller COLA received for 2020.
MoneyWise found that the average annual Social Security benefit in 2020 is highest in the following 10 states:
- New Jersey: $20,264
- Connecticut: $20,202
- Delaware: $19,854
- New Hampshire: $19,630
- Michigan: $19,442
- Maryland: $19,412
- Washington: $19,251
- Indiana: $19,078
- Minnesota: $19,069
- Pennsylvania: $18,994
The states with the lowest average annual benefit in 2020 are:
- Mississippi: $17,161
- Maine: $17,185
- New Mexico: $17,273
- Montana: $17,380
- Arkansas: $17,382
People who want to make their Social Security benefit payments as big as possible for retirement are advised to wait until age 70 to claim Social Security. Learn more about the advantages of postponing claiming in “7 Reasons You Should Not Claim Social Security Early.”
Some folks, though, could be better off claiming benefits as early as possible, at age 62. The details are in “5 Reasons You Should Claim Social Security ASAP.”