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. Laura B.

    I plan to apply for retirement effective 8/1/22. Will I receive my 1st payment in August or September?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Laura. Thanks for your question. Retirement benefits are paid the month after they are due. So, for instance, if your want your benefits to begin with the month of August, you will receive your first payment in September. The exact payment date is determined by your date of birth. You may find our Schedule of Social Security Benefit Payments Calendar helpful. We hope this helps. 

  2. Gloria D.

    i am 66yrs and 1months 66and 4months is my full retirement age i am on disibility right now can i file for my retirement now ?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Gloria. Thanks for your question. When you reach full retirement age, your disability benefits automatically convert to retirement benefits, but the benefit amount remains the same. We hope this helps. 

      • Gloria D.

        can i work after it converts to full retirement ?

  3. Claire E.

    I am retiring at 62.5 and do not plan on taking SS until I reach full retirement at 66.10. I have 40 credits and will be living off savings and stock for the next 4years.
    Will this impact the estimated payout on my current statement.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Claire. Good news! With a personal my Social Security account, you can get and estimate your future retirement benefits. For more information visit our  my Social Security account page. Thanks! 


  4. James K.

    Haven’t yet found an answer to my question:
    My wife already gets her own benefits. How will her benefits be affected when I apply for my own benefits? She’s concerned that her present check will be lowered or eliminated.
    Can you help – PLEASE?


    • Ann C.

      Hi, James. Benefits paid to you will not decrease her retirement benefit. For more information, visit our Retirement Planner page. We hope this helps. 

  5. Marilyn N.

    Can you start and stop your retirement benifits?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Marilyn. Thank you for your question. If you file for Social Security benefits and then you change your mind, you may be able to withdraw your Social Security claim only if it has been less than 12 months since you were first entitled to benefits.  Your date of entitlement is the month you start your benefits and may not be the same as the date you actually receive your first check. If you withdraw your claim, you may re-apply at a future date. To withdraw your claim, you must make a request in writing to withdraw and repay the benefits that you received.  Please visit Withdrawing Your Social Security Retirement Application for more information.

  6. Todd R.

    I filed for my retirement Social security back in October. It’s been 4 months and I’m still stuck pending . I have called several numbers always being told looks like it should be approved any day. Any day has been going on since early December. I have talked with local office, emailed ,called and called with no help. What can I do to get this rectified. Any help would be appreciated!

    • Kenny O.

      Hi, Todd. We are sorry to hear about your experience. Please note that our call wait times are longer than normal. For your security, we do not have access to private information at this venue. We ask that members of our Blog community continue to work directly with their local offices for answers to 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. We hope this helps.

  7. Rose

    Hi i am on SSI and i have 30 credits how can i earn the 10 that i need and how much is 10 credits to get my full benefits for retiring i am 60 at the moment thanks

    • Kenny O.

      Hi Rose. For information about credits and how to earn them, check out our publication, How You Earn Credits. If you have specific questions, you may call us at: 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., for assistance. Generally, you will have a shorter wait if you call later in the day. We hope this helps.

  8. Steph F.

    My mom was a very low wage earner so getting 50% of my dad’s benefit is more that collecting on her own card. But if he predeceases her will she then receive his full amount?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Steph. Thanks for your question. The amount of your mother’s widow’s benefit would be based on several factors, including: the earnings of your dad, when he started receiving his benefits, and her age at the time of his death. For more information about survivor benefits, please visit our If You Are The Survivor page. For specific questions about your mother’s potential benefit as a survivor, she can contact us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, betweeen 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. We hope this helps. 

  9. Chi N.

    Where can I find the formula used by SSA to calculate the monthly pay out? What is the maximum monthly amount in general for Full retirement (70 years old)? Is the payment approved in February 2022 included the COLA of 5.9%?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Chi. For details on how your retirement benefit is figured, please check out our publication, Your Retirement Benefit: How It’s Figured. The maximum benefit depends on the age you retire. For more information, check out our Frequently Asked Questions. For future benefit estimates, you can use your personal my Social Security account. If you have additional specific questions about your benefits, 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.


      We hope this helps. 

  10. Edward D.

    Hi Ann C- thanks for responding to all.. I have a question- I was supposed to retire on 12/31/21 but my employer extended me to 1/15/22. I wish they had not now as SS is asking for my January earnings- well it was only a paycheck for 15 days. I realize they will price my part B and D on a higher income (full time earnings) based on 2021 earnings. But my income will drop by 75% in 2022. How long before I can appeal to SS to readjust my cost for part B &D. It is a life changing event no?

    • Ann C.

      Thanks for your question, Edward. If your income has gone down and the change makes a difference in the income level we consider, please visit our Benefits Planner: Premiums: Rules for Higher-Income Beneficiaries page for more information about how to request a reduction in your income-related monthly adjustment amount. We hope this helps. 


      • Edward D.

        Thanks Ann C- can this form (life changing Event) be sent in now even though I will not file my 2022 tax return proving the substantially lower income until April 2023?

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