Three Common Ways Your Social Security Payment Can Grow After Retirement

June 21, 2018 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

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.

Did you find this Information helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!

Tags: ,

See Comments

About the Author

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications


  1. Samuel G.

    Thanks. This clears up a couple of questions I had.

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your comment, Samuel! We’re pleased we can help. We will continue our efforts to meet your requirements and expectations in the years to come.

  2. Rebecca P.

    The online engine that will take me to my account on the first try told me that, the system had tried 3 times to access my account. Interesting enough that is a false statement because I had just signed for the first time, then I got that response and thought maybe I had done something wrong, so I re-entered my information and your system once again, said it had tried 3 times to access my account. I am thinking someone on your technical side of the house may want to look into their system just to make sure the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted. System errors can happen all of the time. n happen all of the time.

  3. William S.

    are we getting a cola this year or have we already?

  4. Rose M.

    So I started to take my SS at 67 and I continue to work full time. Does that mean that my check may increase as I continue to work full time?

  5. Carl W.

    how much of the 2.8 raise will go to Medicare payment?

  6. Charles A.

    Iam 70yrs old and working for a grocery chain for the last 4yrs. Are there any increase in my ss checks for this coming year.

  7. sherman L.

    My wife and I have worked each summer for 5 months and the last 3 years. When will we see an increase in SS money?

  8. Thomas H.

    You People are so “Full of SH*T!
    I hadn’t had more than a 1% Cola in 5 years, last year the 2% COLA was Wiped out by the Medicare (& Advantage plan) Premium Increase !
    I’m sure you’ll find a Way to Screw us out of This Years (2019) COLA. Make it one of Trumps DIET COLAs !

  9. Beryl F.

    On 10/12/2018 I received a one time payment of $340.20. What was that for?

  10. Nancy M.

    I would like add part D to my Medicare,,,I am still working and have been paying for health insurance thru my employer but plan to retire soon.

Comments are closed.