May 30, 2024

If You Invested Every Social Security Check for 10 Years, How Rich Would You Be?

DNY59 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

DNY59 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

One common criticism of Social Security is that Americans would be much better off financially if the money they paid into the retirement program through payroll taxes were instead invested into private investment accounts. That same argument is applied to Social Security checks — seniors would have much more wealth if they invested their checks as soon as they got them.

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There is truth to that theory, based on typical investment returns. An analysis from GOBankingRates found that if you invested all of your monthly Social Security checks in the S&P 500 over the past decade, your nest egg would have grown by nearly $20,000.

That kind of return should bring cheer to financial gurus, like Dave Ramsey, who recommend applying for Social Security retirement benefits as early as possible (age 62) and then immediately investing every monthly payment.

There’s just one problem with that reasoning, however: A large percentage of seniors don’t have the financial ability to put their Social Security checks into stocks, bonds, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, real estate, crypto or other investments. They need the money to pay the bills.

For about half of U.S. seniors, Social Security provides at least 50% of their overall retirement income, according to research from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. For about one-in-four seniors, Social Security provides at least 90% of income. These folks have a hard enough time making ends meet, let alone tossing their Social Security checks into various investments that might or might not pay off.

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How Much Would You Have Made If Those Funds Were Invested?

But for those who can afford to invest all of their Social Security checks, the potential payoff is considerable. The following table shows how much profit you would have made if you invested every Social Security check over the past 10 years into the S&P 500, from 2014 through 2023.

The numbers include the average Social Security check by year as previously reported by GOBankingRates. They also include the average annual return of the S&P 500 from 2014-23, as cited by Macrotrends (other sources might reflect different returns).

A couple things to keep in mind: The figures below are based only on yearly averages, which means they don’t include month-to-month fluctuations that happen with the stock market. They also don’t include other types of investments — such as crypto holdings or real estate — that would have produced very different returns.


Avg. monthly SS check

Total SS payments for year

S&P 500 return

Profit/loss for year



















































Total profit/loss





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This article originally appeared on If You Invested Every Social Security Check for 10 Years, How Rich Would You Be?

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