Retirement

How You Can Grow Your Social Security Benefits Beyond Retirement Age

November 30, 2017 • By

Last Updated: August 2, 2021

man and woman outside on laptop For more and more Americans, reaching retirement age no longer means the end of an active working life. Many people are choosing to work past the age of 65, according to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If you’re willing and able, maintaining gainful employment later in life could go a long way toward ensuring a secure future for you and your family. Besides providing you with additional income to pay your bills, extending your employment or working for yourself could boost your lifetime Social Security benefits.

Here’s how:

Whether you’re still working or not, waiting to claim your Social Security retirement benefits could grow them significantly. Through delayed retirement credits, your monthly benefit amount increases for each year you wait between your full retirement age and 70. Full retirement age is between 65 and 67, depending on when you were born. To learn more about delayed retirement credits, please visit our Retirement Benefits page.

You get credits on your earnings record for each year of additional work income. Once you start receiving retirement benefits, we’ll automatically review your earnings record each year to determine if you’re entitled to an adjustment. When we calculate your retirement benefit amount, we use your best 35 years of earnings. We’ll increase your benefit amount if your new year of earnings is higher than one of the years we used to calculate your initial benefit amount. To see how we calculate your benefits, see our publication, Your Retirement Benefit: How It’s Figured.

An increased benefit amount for yourself could mean more support for your family, too, through Social Security spousal benefits, child benefits, and survivor benefits.

We also encourage you to set up your own online my Social Security account so you can verify your lifetime earnings record, check the status of an application for benefits, and manage them after you’re receiving them. You can create your personal my Social Security account today.

Social Security is committed to helping you prepare for a secure today and tomorrow for you, your family, and future family. You can access all of our retirement resources on our Retirement Benefits page.


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About the Author

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Comments

  1. james adelmann

    Hi. I will turn 70 in April. I am already receiving spousal support from my wife’s full retirement benefits. At age 70 my own benefits will be more than the spousal benefits I now receive. Do I need to apply now to receive my full benefits at age 70, or will it happen automatically?

    • Vonda

      Hi James, thanks for using our blog to ask your question. You can apply four months before you want your Social Security retirement benefits to start. Once you’re ready to apply, the easiest way to complete your application is online.

      If you need further assistance, call us at 1-800-772-1213 or you can contact your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  2. Ronald Hughes

    I am 67 yrs. old and I have been receiving spousal support for about 2 years based on my ex wife retirement. I applied to receive full social security but 2 months before it was to start I withdrew the application and ask to just continue with spousal support. Now I have received a letter saying all benefits are cancelled. It seems like punishment for not taking full social security. No new benefits were started and current benefits were cancelled. Can you explain.

    • Vonda

      For your security, Ronald, 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 for assistance or you can call your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  3. Raul Ochoa

    I will stop working on June 30, 2021 – if I delay claiming my SS benefits until 70, will my benefits still grow about 8% each year?
    (Even though I will not have any work income after June 2021)

    • Sue

      Hi Raul, and thanks for using our blog to ask your question. Social Security retirement benefits increase by a certain percentage for each month you delay starting your benefits beyond full retirement age. The 12-month rate of increase is equivalent to 8%. There is no incentive to delay claiming after the month you reach 70. For comparison purposes, you may wish to use our Online Calculator to review benefit estimates with all credits applied.

      Even if you decide to delay your retirement benefits, be sure to enroll in just Medicare at age 65 or during your Special Enrollment Period (SEP) if you had employer health coverage after 65. If you do not sign up at 65, in some circumstances your Medicare coverage may be delayed and cost more. For more details, see our Apply Online for Medicare — Even if You Are Not Ready to Retire (ssa.gov) pamphlet. We hope this helps.

  4. Vicki Deg

    My spouse began receiving a reduced amount of social security benefit at 62. What is the process when he is at the age to receive full benefit? Is it automatically done or is there a request/application process?

  5. Steve Cole

    I have been receiving disability benefit since age 47 due to a series of strokes left me paralyzed. How do I find out when my disability benefit ends and will I receive regular retirement benefits?
    Thank you.

  6. Gene

    I am 71 years old, still working, and started receiving social security benefits at age 70. Will my benefits increase or will I get a lump sum payment when I retire, due to the fact that I currently am still working and paying social security taxes?

    • Vonda

      Hi Gene, thank you for using our blog to ask your 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 example, in December 2021, you should get an increase for your 2020 earnings if those earnings raised your benefit. The increase would be retroactive to January 2021.

      Check out our Receiving Benefits While Working web page for more details.

      • M Carloc

        The year you turn 70 can count as one of your 35 highest earning years? And even years after you turn 70 if you keep working?

        • Vonda

          Hi M Carloc, thank you for using our blog to ask your 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. It doesn’t matter how old you are. This is an automatic process, and benefits are paid in December of the following year. For example, in December 2021, you should get an increase for your 2020 earnings if those earnings raised your benefit. The increase would be retroactive to January 2021.

          Check out our Receiving Benefits While Working web page for more details.

      • Dennis Brown

        I am 74 and in the same situation. I started collecting SS at 70 and received an increase each year until this year. Is there a way to verify that 2019 and now 2020 were NOT part of my high 35 years ? Was the recalculation delayed by the COVID? Thanks

        • Vonda

          Hi Dennis, thanks for using our blog. A recalculation using your 2020 earnings will not take place until late year, around December. If you didn’t receive an increase using your 2019 earnings and you feel like you should have, you can call your local Social Security office to inquire. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  7. David Kibler

    How many retirees receive the maximum social security benefit?

    • Vonda

      Hi David, thanks for using our blog. Check out our Frequently Asked Questions web page for details on the maximum retirement benefit. Thanks!

Comments are closed.