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. donald c.

    i m 71 years old on ss retired at 62 retired can i get more money at 71 at 1200 a month now

  2. Lushen E.

    I started my social security benefits at age 62 .I am now 76 . I was told that there is a new federal law that allows my benefits to increases 8%per year. What can I do .where can I go to find out.

  3. Sharon L.

    I want to know if my Social Security will INCREASE as my EX husband has passed away. His wife has also passed away. Seems to me that my SS should increase. Thank you for your time

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Sharon. For your security, 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, Monday through Friday, between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., for assistance. Generally, you will have a shorter wait if you call later in the day. You can also contact your local Social Security office. We hope this helps.

  4. Ruth E.

    I have 2 questions:
    1. I signed up for Medicare at age 65, however I am still working and I have insurance through my work. Will I be penalized for not signing up for Part B or the other medical benefits offered?
    2.I was born in 1953, I was married for 28 years. Am I eligible to recieve higher benefits through my former husband’s social security? He worked more years than I have?

  5. cindy b.

    Hello, I get conflicting Guidance from Social Security Administration when I talk to customer Service representatives, do what they advise, then when received for processing – such as an appeal of the IRMMA, get different guidance when my appeal is rejected? How do I know whose guidance to follow and what do I do when I receive different information. I just recently processed an appeal because the Office I was dealing with didn’t process paperwork I turned over to them when the IRMMA was being challenged.

    I was told by someone over the phone to appeal it. I did appeal and because the SSA agent doing the review – reviewed it for the wrong benefit year – 2017 instead of 2018. They would NOT take my supporting documents when I tried to turn them over to the local SSA office.
    Where do I go to resolve the controversy when I get to different “sets” of insutrction?

    Are one time payments excluded from the normal income levels when calculating the IRMMA.

    Any help you can provide is appreciated. IT is very time consuming to get paperwork together to try and comply with instructions received and then nothing is done or a totally different set of NEW guidelines is furnished.

  6. Donnie

    I worked one additional year after I started receiving full retirement benefits. I believe Social Security was withheld during that year. Am I due additional payments based on that year?

  7. Sarah J.

    I was awarded disability benefits in Sept of 2018 retro to Septyet, 2013. I have not received that payment yet & am wondering how much longer it will be before I do receive it. Please answer that for me. I do get a monthly check. But the retro is still pending. Thank you.

  8. george m.

    This is a hoax.
    You can’s request a Social security card on -line.
    Not sure why they are publishing miss information.

    I created an accout.
    Signed in.
    Website said I could not request a Spoc sec card on-line.

    Why you wasting our time ??

  9. Janet F.

    I will be 69 this month. I started retirement at 62. I was born in 1950. Should I be able to draw more now!

  10. Marsha W.

    Is there a way to check on SS increasing since I have worked part time for yrs folllowing full retirement. Marsha Diane Akau Wellein. Last 4 is 5737

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Marsha. 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 one of the years we used to compute your retirement benefit, we will recalculate your benefit amount. Generally, we will send a letter explaining any increase in your benefit amount. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. Please call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. or contact your local office directly for further assistance. To learn more read our publication, How Work Affects Your Benefits. We hope this helps.

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