Retirement

How You Can Grow Your Social Security Benefits Beyond Retirement Age

November 30, 2017 • By

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 www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire/delayret.html.

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, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10070.pdf.

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 at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

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 at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire.


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Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

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  1. Burton Herd

    i retired at the age of 66 i’d like to work till i’m 70 will they take money away from my social security. at the age 70

    Reply
    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi Burton, thanks for using our blog. Once you reach your full retirement age, earnings no longer reduce your benefits, no matter how much you earn.

      Keep in mind, if you continue to work while receiving retirement benefits, your monthly benefit amount may increase. As long as you continue to work and receive benefits, we will check your record every year to see whether the additional earnings will increase your monthly benefit. If there is an increase, we will send you a letter telling you of your new benefit amount.

      Reply
  2. Burton Edward Dupee

    If I started collecting benefits at 62 but continue to work part-time and I’m now almost 70 is there any way to get a higher monthly benefit amount if I continue to work. Thank you

    Reply
    • Ann C., Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi, Burton, Thanks for your question. Each year, we review the records for all working Social Security recipients to see if additional earnings may increase their monthly benefits. If your earnings for the prior year are higher than one of the years we used to figure your retirement benefit, we will recalculate your benefit amount. If an increase is due, a new monthly benefit amount is established on your record automatically. If you continue to work, remember that starting with the month you reach full retirement age, there is no limit on how much you can earn and still receive your Social Security benefits. For more information, visit here. We hope this information helps!

      Reply
  3. Paula Baca

    Where to I sign up for the spousal benefits? I get $635.00 a month and my husband gets over $2,000.00 a month. I know that I am entitled to half of his. WHERE and HOW do I do this?

    Reply
    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi Paula, thanks for using our blog. We will always pay a person’s own retirement benefit first. If their benefits as a spouse are higher than their own retirement benefits, they will get a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse benefit. However, keep in mind that your benefit as a spouse cannot exceed one-half of your husband’s full retirement amount (not a reduced benefit amount or an increased amount due to delayed retirement credits). So, a person is only going to receive additional spouse’s benefits if their own full retirement benefit (not their reduced benefit) is less than half of their spouse’s full retirement benefit.

      For example, if a worker’s full retirement benefit amount is $1,100, the spousal benefit is 50 percent of that, or $550. However, if that spouse is eligible for a full retirement benefit on their own record of $400, then their actual spouse’s benefit would be an additional $150 which equals that 50 percent. If the spouse waited until their full retirement age to file, they would receive one payment of $550, even though $400 was from their own retirement record and $150 was from their spouse’s record. Benefits are reduced if the individual files prior to their full retirement age.

      To inquire on eligibility, 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.

      Reply
  4. Joan S Hawley

    I will turn 66 years old on 11/24 and was born in 1954. I will reach full retirement and if I chose to continue working, how much can I earn so it does not effect my benefits? I was told I could earn as much as I wanted and it will not effect my benefits while drawing my monthly SS.
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi Joan, thanks for using our blog. The amount you’re allowed to earn while receiving benefits depends on your age. If you attain full retirement age (66) in 2020, the earnings limit is $48,600 but we only count earnings before the month you reach full retirement age. Beginning with the month you reach full retirement age, earnings no longer reduce your benefits, no matter how much you earn. If you’re under full retirement age for the entire year, then we deduct $1 from benefit payments for every $2 earned above the annual limit. For 2020, that limit is $18,240. Visit our Retirement Planner: Getting Benefits While Working and our Retirement Earnings Test Calculator.

      The Benefits Planner: Retirement provides detailed information about Social Security retirement benefits.

      Reply
  5. Terry B Holmes

    Hello can you tell me how can you take someone below the poverty level for things like back child support that is wrong in the first place, take away the stimulus check and so people being put at or way below USA poverty is not right but you still let this be done and you wonder why people are living in the street or anywhere they can,I got more to come

    Reply
  6. Elizabeth J Tillman

    Can one work while drawing social security and if so what is the allowed amount of income.

    Reply
    • Ann C., Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi, Elizabeth. You can work while receiving retirement benefits. If you are younger than full retirement age, there is a limit to how much you can earn and still receive full Social Security benefits. If you are younger than full retirement age during all of 2020, we must deduct $1 from your benefits for each $2 you earn above $18,240. If you reach full retirement age during 2020, we must deduct $1 from your benefits for each $3 you earn above $48, 600 until the month you reach full retirement age. For more information and examples of how this works, please see our publication, How Work Affects Your Benefits. We hope this helps.

      Reply
  7. Victoria Rowe

    Can you back up and pay 8 percent per every year that you took social security benefits form age 62 to 70 and get a do over for your benefits

    Reply
    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi Victoria, thanks for using our blog. If you apply for Social Security benefits and you change your mind about when they should start, you may be able to withdraw your Social Security claim and re-apply at a future date. However, if you change your mind 12 months or more after you became entitled to retirement benefits, you cannot withdraw your application. Also, keep in mind that you must repay all the benefits that you and your family received. For more information, go to our web page on Withdrawing your Application. We hope this helps!

      Reply
  8. Cecil

    If I choose to take my Social Security payment before my full retirement age, will my Military Pension pay be affected? If so, how? (I guess my question is IF I collect before full retirement age, but keep working, is there a limit or would there be deductions from my SS Montyly Payment?

    Reply
    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi Cecil, thanks for using our blog to ask your question. The amount you’re allowed to earn while receiving benefits depends on your age. If you attain full retirement age (66) in 2020, the earnings limit is $48,600 but we only count earnings before the month you reach full retirement age. Beginning with the month you reach full retirement age, earnings no longer reduce your benefits, no matter how much you earn. If you’re under full retirement age for the entire year, then we deduct $1 from benefit payments for every $2 earned above the annual limit. For 2020, that limit is $18,240.

      Visit our Retirement Planner: Getting Benefits While Working and our Retirement Earnings Test Calculator.

      The Benefits Planner: Retirement provides detailed information about Social Security retirement benefits.

      Reply
  9. Ron Durbin

    I’m 66.3yrears old and want or should I say need to start collecting next July when I will turn 64. I will need to file to start collecting in Jan.. However since I will continue to work, I won’t collect until July 2021. If I continue to work until full retirement age 66.6yrs. how much will my benefit increase to at full retirement age?

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Ron, thanks for using our blog. If you have a my Social Security account, you can get an estimate of your personal retirement benefits and see the effects of different retirement age scenarios. If you are unable to create an account, you can use our online Retirement Estimator.

      The amount you’re allowed to earn while receiving benefits depends on your age. If you attain full retirement age in 2021, the earnings limit is $50,520 but we only count earnings before the month you reach full retirement age. Beginning with the month you reach full retirement age, earnings no longer reduce your benefits, no matter how much you earn. If you’re under full retirement age for the entire year, then we deduct $1 from benefit payments for every $2 earned above the annual limit. For 2021, that limit is $18,960.

      Visit our Retirement Planner: Getting Benefits While Working for more details.

      Reply

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