Once Started, Benefits Do Not Increase With Age

Q: I started Social Security retirement at age 66 several years age and have received monthly benefits since. Do my benefits increase because I am now older?

A: They do not. People can start Social Security retirement at age 62 or any month up to age 70. Full retirement age (FRA), also called normal retirement age, is the Social Security term for how old a person must be to receive retirement without reduction for age. The amount of your retirement is partly based on how many months before or after FRA you are when starting benefits.

Once started, benefits do not increase just because you are older. Increases are possible, for example from cost-of-living-adjustments (COLA), additional earnings, or becoming eligible for a different type of benefit, but not just because you have gotten older.

Delayed retirement credits (DRC) increase benefit amounts of those who delay starting benefits past full retirement age, which is age 66 for birth years 1943 – 1954.

Benefits started before or at full retirement age are not considered delayed. Since you started Social Security at age 66, your retirement benefits were not delayed and you will not receive delayed retirement credits.

The DRC increase for people born in 1943 or later is 2/3 of 1 percent per month for a yearly increase of about 8.0 percent. This increase no longer applies once reaching age 70, even if retirement benefits continue to be delayed. There is no additional advantage to putting off SSA retirement once you reach age 70.

Continued work is a popular, but not the only, reason for delaying Social Security past full retirement age. Once FRA is reached, the annual earnings test ends so you could receive monthly retirement even if working full time.

Nationally, people are more likely to start Social Security retirement when younger than FRA. When deciding if delaying the start of retirement beyond FRA is for you, consider not only the increase to benefits, but also tax implications and the amount of Social Security not being received. Every choice has advantages and disadvantages.

Continued work at any age can increase ongoing retirement monthly amounts. There is an automatic review of the amount every year that new earnings are posted to the record of someone receiving retirement benefits.

Use the tools and information at the Social Security Retirement Planner portion of the Social Security website at www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/.  Online applications are there for you too.