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. Barbara E.

    Hi, I began receiving disability (SSDI?) at age 50. I worked from age 15 until then. When I became eligible for Medicare, I was told that my income was below the amount that would cause it to be taken out of my check. When I received my first check after becoming eligible for Medicare, they did take it out of my check. I contacted S.S. who told me to contact Job+Fam. Serv. who in turn told me to contact S.S.. This went on for 8 mo. Then they stopped taking it out, but I was told I would receive reimbursement for 7mo. of the 8 that they incorrectly took it out. I never received that. Then The back and forth referring started again. I need dental work and could use it for that, but don’t know how to get it. Any information for this? Thanks+God bless

    • R.F.

      Hello Barbara. Unfortunately, but for security reasons, we do not have access to personal records in this blog. Please continue working with your local office. You can request to speak with the manager to see how we can help to expedite resolution of your situation.
      If you are unable to visit the local office, you can call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213, representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Generally, you will have a shorter wait time if you call later during the day or later in the week. Thanks!

  2. Joseph A.

    Social Security Payment how much can I make without affecting my Social Security Payment. I will be 70 on 11/22/2018 and or my taxes. I am retired but need more money for bills

    • R.F.

      Hello Joseph. At age 69, you’ve reached your full retirement age. If you work and are full retirement age or older, the amount you make at work will not affect your Social Security benefits, no matter how much you earn.

  3. Daniel G.

    My full retirement age is 66. If my annual income is reduced due to going part time once I have reached full retirement age does this lower or adversly affect my monthly Social Security benefit (benefit based on highest 35 year period)? Also once you start receiving SS benefits do you continue to pay income tax, social security and medicare on those benefits?

    • R.F.

      Hello Daniel. 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. Higher lifetime earnings result in higher benefits. If there were some years you didn’t work or had low earnings, your benefit amount may be lower than if you had worked steadily.
      Also, some people have to pay federal income taxes on their Social Security benefits. This usually happens only if you have other substantial income (such as wages, self-employment, interest, dividends and other taxable income that must be reported on your tax return) in addition to your benefits. For further income tax questions, you will need to contact the IRS. Their toll-free number is 1-800-829-1040.
      We hope this information helps!

  4. mary r.

    I was told that after I retire from work and are getting my SS checks, that if i do some work I can make as much as I want. I this true?

    • R.F.

      Hello Mary, if you elect to receive benefits before you reach full retirement age, you should understand how continuing to work can affect your benefits. See “Getting Benefits While Working” for complete information on this topic. Thanks!

  5. Roger D.

    How may I determine how much money I may earn, before I lose 1 dollar for every 2 dollars earned?

  6. Robert J.

    Why was this month payment not my regular 601$

    • R.F.

      Hello Robert. Unfortunately, and because of security reasons we do not have access to personal records in this blog and cannot answer your question at this time. One of our representatives should be able to provide you with an explanation. Please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Generally, you will have a shorter wait time if you call later during the day or later in the week. Thanks.

  7. Joseph S.

    How do I make an appointment to sign up for medicare office located in Salt Lake City Utah ?

    • NHS

      Google it.

    • R.F.

      Hello Joseph. Please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Generally, you will have a shorter wait time if you call later during the day or later in the week.
      Individuals within three months of age 65 or older and not ready to start their monthly cash benefits can use our online retirement application to sign up for Medicare ONLY and apply for their retirement benefits at a later date. Since you must pay a premium for Part B coverage, you have the option of turning it down. However, we suggest that individuals speak to their health benefits advisor, or health plan representative to see what’s best for them, and to prevent any penalties or delayed enrollment in the future.
      To learn more about the Medicare enrollment periods visit, and read our publication “Apply Online for Medicare – Even If You Are Not Ready to Retire“.
      We hope this information helps!

  8. Terry B.

    I am 62. I have a 10 year old daughter. If I decide to sign up for social security. Will my daughter receive benefits also. According to my income chart on social security. I can get $834.00 will this increase with my daughter she is not disabled.

    • R.F.

      Hello Terry. When you start receiving Social Security retirement benefits, some members of your family may also qualify to receive benefits on your record.
      Your child may receive a monthly payment of up to one-half of your full retirement benefit amount. These payments will not decrease your retirement benefit. In fact, the value of the benefits your child may receive, added to your own, may help you decide if taking your benefits sooner may be more advantageous.
      Normally, benefits stop when children reach age 18 unless they are disabled. However, if the child is still a full-time student at a secondary (or elementary) school at age 18, benefits will continue until the child graduates or until two months after the child becomes age 19, whichever is first.
      See our Benefits Planner: Benefits For Your Family for more information.

  9. Mabel O.

    This post is very educative to people especially to me when I read it. Thank you so much. Keep on with the information.

    • J.Y.

      Thanks for your feedback! Your thoughts are important to us and we’re pleased when feedback is positive. We try hard to provide the best possible service to our customers and your satisfaction is our reward.

  10. Russell J.

    Thank you for the helpful information. Please keep me posted on any changes.

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