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. Valeria m.

    Well some of my benefits were withheld after starting to draw my benefits after 62 benefits withheld in 2 years but when I asked social security about recalculating my benefit they claimed they did not recalculate benefits for withholding benefits

    • Luis A.

      Hi, Valeria. 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 concerns. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), 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.

  2. Lex L.

    Back in 2015 I no choice but to retire at the age of 62 because I was no longer working and had to somehow survive. Now at age of 66 I find myself in big trouble. At age of 65 medicare kicked in and I had to get a suplemental (AARP ) that cost me $140 a month. Cost of living keeps going up, rent, insurance, food etc. and even tho my wife works, we do not have money for food. On top of that I for first time have been in the hospital twice already and now taking medications. We applied for food stamps and got denied.. somehow we do not qualify for that help. With only ten or eleven months to go with car payments, I can’t make them and will get the car reposses soon. What are we suppos to do ? I a m looking for a job at my age again but so far no luck…. What am I suppose to do ?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Lex. We are sorry to hear about your situation. You may be eligible to receive social services from the state in which you live. These services include Medicaid, free meals, housekeeping help, transportation or help with other problems. To find out whether you may qualify, call the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at 1-800-633-4227 (TTY, 1-877-486-2048). You also can get information about services in your area from your state or local social services or welfare office. We hope this helps.

  3. James H.

    I have forgotten the information to get into my account. My name is: James Harold Oden. My e-mail is:

  4. James H.

    I have forgotten the information to get into my account. My name is: James Harold Oden. My e-mail is:

    • Ann C.

      Hi, James. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. If you are still unable to create an account or encounter a problem with your personal my Social Security account, you may:
      •Call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. At the voice prompt, say “helpdesk”; or
      •Contact your local Social Security office. Just a reminder – please be cautious about posting personal information on social media. We hope this helps.

  5. Leslie P.

    I worked for an additional 14 years after I started collecting social security. Is it possible that my monthly check will increase ?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Leslie. Thanks for your question. Each year we review the records for all Social Security recipients who work and will refigure your benefit if applicable. Learn more about how work affects your benefits here. We encourage you to continue working with your local office if you have any further specific questions about your benefits. We hope this helps.

  6. Tito

    I retired at 65 years of age after paying after paying SS for 32 years back in June of 2015. I went back to work full time on July 2017. Would my SS benefits money increased and if not where is money being taken out going to ?

  7. James E.

    I began receiving social security retirement benefits when I was almost 63 years old when I was laid off my job in 2004.
    When I was able to acquire a new job in March, 2006 I was employed for a few months at one company at $12/hr. Since I earned more money than SSA allows I had to pay funds to SSA for a penalty.
    In January, 2007 I acquired another job at considerable job for considerable more pay and worked there until December,2014 when I was 73 yrs old.
    All this time I was paying social security and not receiving additional social security income. Should I be receiving additional pay from SSA for all these additional years I paid into the system?
    Thank you,

    James E. David

  8. Kathi

    So, even though I have been collecting my Social Security check since full retirement age of 66 – and I am still working fulltime – my Social Security payment might increase when I finally retire end of this year? (Just shy of my 70th bday in Feb)

  9. Howie F.

    I reached 67 in August and want to receive SSA Benefits in Sept. Does the 8% get applied to my benefit amount in Sept? I was told that the 8% would not be applied in Sept. When would this 8% increase be applied?

  10. Robert P.

    I took early retirement at 62 now that i’m 72 can I get more benefits . my job that I had for 28 years is given to a younger female.

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