Retirement

Three Common Ways Your Social Security Payment Can Grow After Retirement

June 21, 2018 • By

Last Updated: June 21, 2018

woman planting flowers You made the choice and now you are happily retired. You filed online for your Social Security benefits. They arrive each month in the correct amount exactly as expected. But, did you ever wonder if your Social Security check could increase?

Once you begin receiving benefits, there are three common ways benefit checks can increase: a cost of living adjustment (COLA); additional work; or an adjustment at full retirement age if you received reduced benefits and exceeded the earnings limit.

The COLA is the most commonly known increase for Social Security payments. We annually announce a COLA, and there’s usually an increase in the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit amount people receive each month. By law, federal benefit rates increase when the cost of living rises, as measured by the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index (CPI-W). More than 66 million Americans saw a 2.0 percent increase in their Social Security and SSI benefits in 2018. For more information on the 2018 COLA, visit our website.

Social Security uses your highest thirty-five years of earnings to figure your benefit amount when you sign up for benefits. If you work after you begin receiving benefits, your additional earnings may increase your payment. If you had fewer than 35 years of earnings when we figured your benefit, you will replace a zero earnings year with new earnings. If you had 35 years or more, we will check to see if your new year of earnings is higher than the lowest of the 35 years (after considering indexing). We check additional earnings each year you work while receiving Social Security. If an increase is due, we send a notice and pay a one-time check for the increase and your continuing payment will be higher.

Maybe you chose to receive reduced Social Security retirement benefits while continuing to work. You made the choice to take benefits early, but at a reduced rate. If you exceeded the allowable earnings limit and had some of your benefits withheld, we will adjust your benefit once you reach full retirement age. We will refigure your payment to credit you for any months you did not receive payments.  Your monthly benefit will increase based on the crediting months you receive. You can find additional information about working and your benefit by reading What You Need to Know When You Get Retirement or Survivors Benefits.

Retirement just got more interesting since you learned about potential increases to monthly payments. Social Security has been securing your today and tomorrow for more than 80 years with information and tools to help you achieve a successful retirement.


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About the Author

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Comments

  1. Patricia G.

    Who saw any increase, they took out more for Medicare, so how are retirees to live on no increases to help off set higher prices; groceries, insurance, prescriptions, it’s terrible how seniors get treated, you work 40 years and still the government takes, and takes, and we get nothing in return for all the years we paid into the system!

    • Snarky

      And yet most people get back much more than they pay in.

      • Logic A.

        Further proof that it is in fact an entitlement program.

        • Terry

          And some people wait and then die and never get anything. I guess that’s called SOL

    • NHS

      It’s called saving and investing while you work to make up the shortfall.

    • Vivian P.

      I have not seen an actual increase in my check since 2015…I agree with you…

    • Edna M.

      Patricia, You said it all right there. I agree with you 100%. It seems like Medicare goes up every year & our S.S. checks keep going down.

    • Richard O.

      Thanks to the illegal immigrants!!! It seems our government is more interested in giving THEM over us hard working Americans who worked all our lives & get peanuts!!!! illegal Immigrants have absolutely NO RIGHT to OUR Social Security money that we worked for all our lives & paid into it. WHY should THEY get OUR money when they paid NOTHING into it?????

      • Who k.

        You are the dumbest of dumb asses, illegal immigrants do not get SS, they pay into it, but they don’t receive it asshole.

  2. Kathryn G.

    I live in Charlottesville. Virginia and would like to have
    an appointment to talk to someone about my social
    security account.
    Please reply

    • BillyB

      call the local office 1-866-613-3959 to set up an appointment

    • Ray F.

      Hi Kathryn. Some of our local offices do offer walk-in appointments; however, these appointments are on a first come, first serve basis. Remember that most Social Security services do not require a visit to a local office. Many services, including applying for retirement, disability or Medicare benefits are conveniently available at our website.
      We encourage our customers to create a my Social Security account. With a personal my Social Security account, you can review your earnings record and get estimates of your future benefits.
      Also, you can call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 and speak to a Social Security representative between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Generally, you will have a shorter wait time if you call later during the day or later in the week. We hope this information helps!

  3. Mousielove

    COLA? Seriously? That’s YOUR explanation of how the benefit will increase? This last adjustment doesn’t even buy milk. How much do YOU earn to post drivel like this? I’ll take THAT money, thanks.

    • Tom

      The cost-of-living is determined by rules laid out by the people you elect to Congress. They tell the Department of Labor what indices to use to measure inflation. Getting mad at the wrong people may feel momentarily fulfilling but it will never fix the problem. You need to pester your Congressman and Senators to fix this. And BTW, one party (currently in power) is looking to impose another way of figuring the COLA that will pay you (over time) a lot less. So when you get mad think about what you are actually voting for. You may get what you deserve for not paying attention to what politicians really stand for. Don’t throw your vote away on people who will not fix anything or make it worse!

      • Snarky

        Finally, an answer that makes sense.

    • David S.

      I think COLA is figured wrong, the use of percent is an uneven amount, COLA’s should be a dollar amount, the same amount to all, convert percent to an average dollar amount and all get the same dollar amount as a COLA.

      • Snarky

        I’ll take the percentage as most sensible people would and as for you, $2.00 even sounds about right.

    • Laudino L.

      Buenos días si tengo el crédito autorizado cómo le ago para disponer del dinero ATT. Laudino López Bonilla

  4. cecily m.

    My husband took social security benefits at age 62 and then decided to go back to work at 64 and worked for 6 1/2 years, full time. can he get increased benefits for working that long?

    • Snarky

      Yep, he’s been getting more but he decided not to tell you and keep the difference for beer money.

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your question, Cecily. When a person applies for retirement benefits, we base their benefit payment on the highest 35 years of their earnings and their age when they start receiving benefits. 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 any of the years that were used to compute your retirement benefit, then we recalculate your benefit amount. If an increase is due, a new monthly benefit amount is established on your record automatically.

      • Laudino L.

        Buenos días si tengo el crédito autorizado cómo le ago para disponer del dinero ATT. Laudino López Bonilla

      • Sue S.

        Can you explain this a little differently as I do not understand it as it is written:
        …”we base their benefit payment on the highest 35 years of their earnings and their age when they start receiving benefits.”
        What does the highest 35 years mean? Is it the year you made the most during a 35 year period? If so, how can I find my life long earnings history?
        I appreciate the information you provide and will very much appreciate any thing that will help me understand this better.

  5. Loretta S.

    What about social security disability? Does it get a increase?

    • Snarky

      Yep!

    • Ray F.

      Hi Loretta. Generally, disability benefits (SSDI) are established at the highest rate possible based on your earnings prior to you becoming disabled. Social Security disability benefits automatically change to retirement benefits when disability beneficiaries attain their full retirement age. Benefits are not interrupted with this transition and the benefit amount will generally remains the same. Thanks!

    • S T.

      Yes, the same COLA applies to SSDI as retirement benefits.

  6. Patricia S.

    I was not working when I started Social Security at 62 because I had had to care for my dying mother since my age of 59. After a few years, I went back to work again at age 68 and continued until I was 89. Was any of that extra work gaining me any larger check from Social Security?

    • Snarky

      Yep!

    • Ray F.

      Hello Patricia. When you apply for retirement benefits, we base your benefit payment on your highest 35 years of earnings and your age when you start receiving benefits.
      Each year, we review the records for all working Social Security recipients to see if additional earnings may increase monthly benefits. If your earnings for the prior year are higher than any of the years that were used to compute your retirement benefit, then we recalculate your benefit amount. If an increase is due, a new monthly benefit amount is established on your record automatically. We hope this information helps!

      • Galen

        I worked a government job for 30 years, no social security taken out.
        I applied for social security benefits in 2016 at age 63. I’m now 66, and have worked and added 3 more years to my work record of 17 social security years. I have not received an increase in benefits. Why?

  7. Richard H.

    I had NO earned income in 2016. Also, you have STILL not paid me my March 2018 benefits of $897. Please wire it to my Chase Ucard IMMEDIATELY! Your failure to pay it yet has put me into a severe hardship, crisis, emergency, which is a crime!! Richard L. Harrison,

    • Snarky

      Personal requests on a public blog are ignored and inappropiate.

  8. WILLIAM O.

    THANK YOU FOR THIS INFORMATION. IT REALLY HELPS. I AM ABOUT TO APPLY FOR RETIREMENT AND I HAVE ONLY ONE QUESTION. IF I APPLY IN JULY AND MY FIRST CHECK IS NOT UNTIL OCTOBER WILL IT REFLECT THE $AMOUNT DUE FROM JULY OR OCTOBER?

    • Snarky

      July and October’s amount is the same thing.

    • Ray F.

      Hello William, if you apply in July but your first month of eligibility is October or if you selected the month of October as your first month of entitlement, your benefit amount will reflect the amount for the month of October. Please keep in mind that benefits are paid the month after they are due. So, for instance, if you want your benefits to begin with the month of October, you will receive your first benefit payment in November. Please visit our Social Security Retirement Planner for more information.
      Thanks!

  9. John

    Sorry there are still two vacant trustee positions that need to be filled. How could a retiree volunteer ?

    • Snarky

      Run up and down the street yelling, “pick me, pick me!”

    • Ray F.

      Please see Social Security/Medicare Trustees for information on this topic. Thanks!

    • Mr. J.

      Greetings,

      I am Barrister John Ryan Williams Personal attorney to your late Relative who passed away in a car accident here in my country alongside with his family members in 4th April 2006 He left behind an investment bond of Seven Million Five Hundred Thousand United State Dollars $7,500,000.00(USD) with a bank(Bsic Bank, Lome-Togo) here in my country, before his death. I have in my possession legal documents that could give you the legal rights for the claim. Write me your sincere thoughts about this mail so That we can get started with the process.

      Please Contact me through my private E-mail: johnryanwilliams1972@gmail.com

      Best Regard
      Mr. John Ryan Williams.

      • Karen P.

        Can I receive added social security benefits from my husbands social security?

  10. keith g.

    can I retire at 48 on soc scoidy

    • Snarky

      No!

    • Ray F.

      Hello Keith, the earliest age you can apply for reduced retirement benefits is 62. Please visit our Retirement Planner for more important information. Also, you can create a my Social Security account to review your earnings record and get an estimate of your future benefits. Thanks!

      • Mr. J.

        Greetings,

        I am Barrister John Ryan Williams Personal attorney to your late Relative who passed away in a car accident here in my country alongside with his family members in 4th April 2006 He left behind an investment bond of Seven Million Five Hundred Thousand United State Dollars $7,500,000.00(USD) with a bank(Bsic Bank, Lome-Togo) here in my country, before his death. I have in my possession legal documents that could give you the legal rights for the claim. Write me your sincere thoughts about this mail so That we can get started with the process.

        Please Contact me through my private E-mail: johnryanwilliams1972@gmail.com

        Best Regard
        Mr. John Ryan Williams.

        • Goodly G.

          Fraud!

        • S S.

          African scammer..?

Comments are closed.