4 Questions About Social Security That Can Help You Plan Your Retirement

January 27, 2022 • By

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Last Updated: November 2, 2023

woman sitting at a desk on a laptop computerSocial Security benefits are part of the retirement plan of almost every American worker. If you’re among the many people covered under Social Security, you should know what your future benefit may be. These monthly payments may be a vital part of your retirement income.

We base your benefit payment on how much you earned during your working career. Higher lifetime earnings result in higher benefits. If there were some years you didn’t work or had low earnings, your benefit amount may be lower than if you had worked steadily. Even if you have never worked under Social Security, you may be able to get spouse’s retirement benefits if you are at least 62 years old and your spouse receives retirement or disability benefits. 

Our online retirement portal is a great place to start mapping out your retirement plan. There, we provide important information that you should know. For example, have you considered:

  • When you should apply to start retirement benefits?
  • What documents you need to provide?
  • Which factors may affect your retirement benefits?
  • What you should remember to do after you apply for retirement benefits?

You can use your personal my Social Security account to get an instant estimate of your future retirement benefits. You can also see the effects of starting your retirement benefits at different ages.

Benefits for family members may also be important to you. When you start receiving Social Security retirement benefits, members of your family may also qualify to receive benefits on your record. You can learn more on our Benefits page. Please share this information with family and friends to help them prepare for retirement.

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About the Author

Dawn Bystry, Associate Commissioner, Office of Strategic and Digital Communications

Deputy Associate Commissioner, Office of Strategic and Digital Communications


  1. Anna N.

    My husband recently retired and the letter is stating that he’ll get his June deposit around July13 and then on the 2nd Wed of each month. I was under impression you’ll get the money so you can support yourself for that month, not with the month delay. As of July 22 he has not received his July payment. Could you please clarify…

    • A.C.

      Hi, Anna. Thanks for visiting our blog. For most Social Security benefits, payment dates are based on your birthdate. We issue Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments at the beginning of the month. For more information, check out our blog, What Day of the Month Do I Get My Social Security PaymentIf your husband did not receive his electronic payment on the scheduled pay date, please have him contact his bank or financial institution first. If he still needs to report a late, missing, or stolen Social Security payment, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions. Thanks!

  2. Augusto P.

    Very interesting and useful information.

  3. Andy

    Hello, my wife is 63 and I am 60. Here current benefit is lower than 1/2 of my benefit when I plan to retire at 67. If she starts taking her benefit now, will she still be eligible to revert to 1/2 of my benefit when I start mine at 67?

    • A.C.

      Hi, Andy. Thanks for your question. If a person begins to receive benefits at age 62 or prior to their full retirement age, their benefits are reduced. The reduction factors are permanently applied to all of the benefits the person may qualify for. Your wife may still be eligible to collect reduced benefits on your record when you apply. Remember, if someone is eligible for both, his or her own benefit and for benefits as a spouse, we always pay their own first. If their spousal benefits are higher than their own retirement benefits, he or she will get a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse benefit. Please visit our Retirement Planner for more information. We hope this helps. 


  4. Barb r.

    I am 65.. when I apply for ss will I be able to collect a portion of my living ex’s as well?

    • A.C.

      Hi, Barb. Thanks for your question. To qualify for spouse’s benefits, your spouse must be receiving retirement or disability benefits. Keep in mind that if you qualify for your own benefits and for benefits as a spouse, we always pay your own benefits first. If your benefits as a spouse are higher than your own benefits, you will get a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse benefit. Visit our Benefits Planner page for more information. We hope this helps. 

  5. Martin V.

    Do I include my military retirement earnings in the earnings estimate for 2022. I was approved but will not be paid because I included the military retirement pay in the estimate. I will retire from DPS in August, my 62nd birthday. Do I only include the time worked until August in the estimate to send in to SSA.

    • A.C.

      Hi, Martin. Thanks for your question. If you retire mid-year, we count your earnings for the entire year. We have a special earnings test rule that we apply to annual earnings—usually the first year of retirement. For more information and an example how it works, visit our Special Earnings Limit Rule page. Keep in mind we don’t count pensions, annuities, investment income, interest, veterans benefits, or other government or military retirement benefits. Please contact your local Social Security office for assistance. We hope this helps.

  6. Colleen D.

    My birthday is March 4, I applied to receive SSI beginning in March, I was told I would not receive my 1st check until May….can you explain why I didn’t receive any $$ in April? or is the $$ I received in May for April??? so the money received in May is for April?

    • A.C.

      Hi, Colleen. It sounds like you applied for Social Security beneifts not Supplemental Security Income (SSI). To begin receiving reduced retirement benefits at 62, you are required to be age 62 for the entire month. For Social Security purposes, individuals born on the first or second day of the month are considered age 62 for the “full” month and could be entitled to benefits for the month of their 62nd birthday. Retirement benefits are paid the month after they are due. So, for instance, if your want your benefits to begin with the month of April, you will receive your first payment in May. The exact payment date is determined by your date of birth. We hope this helps. 

  7. Ricky Y.

    At one time you had sent me paperwork stating I had 2 past employers that still has retirement money available for me and I can’t locate these letters. How can I find this information again or get copy’s of these letters?

    • A.C.

      Hi, Ricky. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., for assistance. You can also contact your local Social Security office. We hope this helps.

  8. Danny J.


    • A.C.

      Hi, Danny. Thanks for your questions. It depends on when you reach  full retirement ageIf you are younger than full retirement age and earn more than the yearly earnings limit, we may reduce your benefit amount. If you are under full retirement age for the entire year, we deduct $1 from your benefit payments for every $2 you earn above the annual limit. For 2022, that limit is $19,560. In the year you reach full retirement age, we deduct $1 in benefits for every $3 you earn above a different limit. In 2022, this limit on your earnings is $51,960. We only count your earnings up to the month before you reach your full retirement age, not your earnings for the entire year. Beginning with the month you reach full retirement age, your earnings no longer reduce your benefits, no matter how much you earn. For additional information, please visit our Receiving Benefits While Working page. We hope this helps. 

  9. Larisa

    Dear Ann 🙂 How do I find out actual increase in monthly SS payment if I work pass 70?

    I filed for SS at 70. I have 14 zero years out 35. (meaning I only paid SS for 21 years)

    Thinking about working extra year pass 70 to replace $0 year. But not sure if it’s worth it due to NY tax. So, how do I calculate increase for working extra year?

    P.S. Tried using SSA calculator, but looks like it’s does not work pass 70 years old.

    Thank you.

    • A.C.

      Hi, Larisa. Good question! Each year we review the records for all Social Security recipients who work. If your latest year of earnings turns out to be one of your highest years, we refigure your benefit and pay you any increase due. This is an automatic process, and benefits are paid in December of the following year. For more information about how work affects your benefits, visit here.For additional specific questions, please call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., for assistance. You can also contact your local Social Security office. We hope this helps.

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