How to Increase your Social Security Benefits Amount

How to Increase your Social Security Benefits Amount

Depending upon your year of birth, delaying your retirement beyond FRA, can increase the amount of benefit that you are eligible to receive by 7% to 8% per year – which can be an increase of as much as 32½% if you delay until age 70 and you were born in 1941 – when your FRA is 65 years and 8 months, and the increase amount is 7½% per year at that age. See the table below:

Birth Year FRA Delay Credit Minimum (age 62) Maximum (age 70)
1940 65 & 6 mos 7% 77½% 131½%
1941 65 & 8 mos 7½% 76⅔% 132½%
1942 65 & 10 mos 7½% 75 5/6% 131¼%
1943-1954 66 8% 75% 132%
1955 66 & 2 mos 8% 74 1/6% 130⅔%
1956 66 & 4 mos 8% 73⅓% 129⅓%
1957 66 & 6 mos 8% 72½% 128%
1958 66 & 8 mos 8% 71⅔% 126⅔%
1959 66 & 10 mos 8% 70 5/6% 125⅓%
1960 & later 67 8% 70% 124%

So you can see the impact of delaying receipt of retirement benefits – it can amount to more than 50% of the PIA (Primary Insurance Amount), when you consider early benefits versus late benefits. Of course, by taking benefits later, you’re foregoing receipt of some monthly benefit payments; given this, early in the game you’d be ahead in terms of total benefit received. This tends to go away as the break-even point is reached in your mid-70’s to early-80’s in most cases.

Here’s an example of the benefit of delay in action:

You were born in 1954, and as such your FRA is age 66. According to the benefit statement you’ve received from Social Security, you are eligible for a monthly benefit payment of $2,000 when you reach your FRA (which would be in 2010). If you delayed applying for your benefit until the next year, your monthly benefit payment would be $2,160 per month – an increase of $1,920 per year. If you delayed until age 68 (two years after FRA), the monthly payment would be increased to $2,320, for an annual increase of $3,840. At age 69, delaying would increase your annual benefit by $5,760, and at age 70, your monthly payment would be $2,640, for an annual benefit of $31,680 – $7,680 more than at FRA. This amounts to a 32% increase in your benefit by delaying receipt of the benefit by 4 years!

It’s important to note that this is not a compounding increase – that is, your potentially-increased benefit from one year is not multiplied by the increase for the following year. The factor for each year (or portion of a year) is simply added to the factor(s) from prior years. You also don’t have to wait a full year to achieve the benefit – this delay is calculated on a monthly basis, so if you delayed by 6 months your increase would be 4% over the FRA amount.

The biggest benefit of this is that you can not only increase the amount you will receive over your lifetime, but also the survivor benefit that your spouse will receive upon your passing. For some folks this can make a huge difference as they plan for the inevitable.