Retirement Benefits

In 2007, the average Social Security check is about $1,000 a month. For a married couple receiving two checks from Social Security, the average is around $1,700 a month. If you paid the maximum amount of Social Security taxes over the years, the current maximum benefit at normal retirement age (which is now nearly 66) is over $2,100 a month, about $25,000 a year.

Those amounts are not huge but they still can be significant. Suppose, for example, you and your spouse get that average $1,700 per month, which is $20,400 a year.

Receiving $20,400 a year from Social Security is equivalent to getting a 5 percent yield from $408,000 worth of bonds. Those benefits are actually better than holding $408,000 in bonds because Social Security checks increase with inflation.

Thus, your Social Security benefits act like a six-figure bond portfolio. By thinking of them in this manner, you can hold more stocks, which probably will boost your long-term investment returns.