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does everyone get social security when they retire?

Listen up! It doesn’t matter whether you’re soon-to-retire or not-even-close – social security is a retirement saving strategy that you want to understand (and keep) in your retirement tool box. 

In this post, we tell you what it is, how it works, and why it matters to know at any age (really, if you are 65 or 32 or 21 or 45 – ANY AGE!)

…Including the answer to the question: does everyone get social security when they retire?

PS: if you’re still working on your retirement tool box or have no idea where to begin, start with the free penny money quiz. it’ll tell ya. ;)

👀 4min read

does everyone get social security when they retire

📸: Baddie Winkle

What is social security?

The "Social Security Retirement benefit" (as the government calls it) is a monthly check that replaces part of your income when you retire and/or reach retirement age.

It’s also a way for the US government to “force” you to save for retirement. 

Money you've earned over your lifetime is auto-magically taken out of your paychecks, and put into your social security account. 

And similar to an invested retirement account, this money grows too! 

In 2024, it’s expected to grow at a rate of 3.2%(whether you take social security or not). This number changes annually, taking into account the rate of inflation (during the pandemic it was 8.7%!).

Does everyone get social security when they retire?

Pretty much, yes! About 97% of people in America will receive social security benefits.

Throughout your career, whether you worked for a big company, a startup, or even yourself, there’s a good chance you paid into social security.

For salaried employees, 6.20% of your paycheck in 2024 (up to the taxable maximum, which is $168,600k) is auto-transferred into your social security account. This is not including Medicare tax at 1.45%.

For self-employed folks, it’s 12.4% -- lucky you! (with Medicare tax at 2.9%)

You can look up how much is in your social security account at

One thing to note: You can't increase or decrease these numbers. Same as tax brackets and percentages, they are set and locked by Uncle Sam.

How does social security work?

First, the government determines your "full retirement age". Then, once you hit that year, that’s when you’re allowed to take your full benefit. 

This retirement age is different for everyone. It could be 66 and 6 months, or 66 and 8 months, or even 67. 

You can use this tool at to figure it out.

Want to cash in early? You can take it up to 1 year earlier than your retirement age, but it'll be a reduced amount. :( 

Want to save it and let it grow? Totally fine, you'll have more later.

If you don't want to take it yet, you can leave it be. (Just don’t forget about it, k?)

Why does it matter? This money is YOURS for retirement! It could impact how much you need to save for tomorrow, or how much more you’ll have to spend today. 

Also, social security is NOT a “free lunch”. 

You will pay up to a 50% income tax on your social security benefits if you file as an individual and your combined income is between $25,000 - $34,000. If you make more than this, up to 85% of your benefits will be taxed.

If you file jointly, this 50% income tax applies when your combined income is between $32,000 - $44,000. More than $44,000, up to 85% of your benefits will be taxed.

How you pay is up to you: you can pay the IRS directly or have taxes withheld from your payment. 

Even with tax, it’s still more money in your pocket at retirement, and worth having in your retirement tool box (along with your 401ks, IRAs, and so on.)

How much social security will I get?

The amount of social security cash you get will vary per person. 

You can look it up at (aka, the United States Social Security Administration office.)

Your social security profile will tell you: 

  • how much you've accumulated 
  • what you can expect to get when you retire 
  • projected account growth

Don't forget that this money is set aside for you! Add a note in your calendar to check in on how your social security money is doing once a year. Nobody likes to feel left behind, right? ;)

What else should I know?

As mentioned earlier, the money in your social security grows depending on the annual rate set by the IRS.

No, that doesn't mean the government is going to take MORE out of your paycheck. 

What the 3.2% increase really means:

The amount that they have already taken out of your paycheck and set aside for retirement is going to grow at an exponential 3.2%. WAHOO! 

For comparison: interest rates in most high-interest (or high yield) savings accounts vary between 2-4% – it's like free money!

To sum it up: 

  • Social security should be part of your retirement tool kit
  • Login to once a year to track your savings
  • Keep it in mind when planning how much to save for retirement

Of course, if you need help any step of the way: we’re here for you! 

At Penny Finance, our goal is to provide easy and digestible financial education for women – so you can increase cash flow today, and retire with wealth tomorrow. Curious? Click here to learn more.


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