Three Common Ways Your Social Security Payment Can Grow After Retirement

June 21, 2018 • By

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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

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications


  1. Martina G.

    Last year received a raise, the Medicare payment was increased by the amount of increase. Will this be a normal thing.

  2. Maria C.

    Does your retirement amount increase past the age of 70? If you work past 70 and you are still paying the full socialsecurity tax, will your payment increase? I pay a lot of SStax every paycheck because I still work fulltime but I turned 70 and intend on working another one to 3 years.

  3. Theodora

    When I switched from 5 to 3 days a week of work, the Soc Sec agency adjusted the deductions to reflect the reduced income – I had not yet figured out how to inform Soc Sec before they did the reduction. I really appreciated that.

  4. Deborah A.

    Why has my monthly total not increased. I have continued to work and make more each year. Please recalculate !

  5. jonathan h.

    hello, i’ve been working part time since i began receiving social security benefits (in 2016), but i’m not sure if my benefits have increased to reflect the ssi tax withholding i’ve paid in that time.

    thank you,
    jonathan hartford

  6. Neal D.

    I would like a review of my retirement benefits based on my working past retirement at higher levels of income. How can that be done? Who should I contact to submit the figures and review this information? Please contact me.
    Neal D. Maxfield

  7. Karen A.

    I have been working since collecting social security but there was a year while working before social security that I did not make anything. How do I go about seeing if this will increase my benefits

  8. Bob

    I’m 70 and collecting social security , working part time
    Still paying social security on my paycheck. Will that increase my cola payment each month.can you tell how that works?

  9. Gloria

    What is the age of benefits I can earn without going over the amount I am receiving.

  10. Beatrice I.

    Why did I receive a one time ppayment of $514 on 10/04/2018 ?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Beatrice. For your security, we do not have access to information about private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community to work with their local office on specific questions about their case. You can also call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Representatives are available Monday through Friday between 7:00a.m. and 7:00p.m. Generally, you’ll have a shorter wait time if you call later in the week. We hope this helps!

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