Boost Your Social Security Benefit Every Month You Delay

You don't need to wait an entire year beyond your full retirement age to earn delayed retirement credits.

(Image credit: Copyright 2017 by Shelley L. Dennis.All rights reserved.)

Question: I just finished reading 6 Reasons to Work Past Retirement Age, which says that for every year you delay taking your Social Security benefits past full retirement age, you get a bump of 8% in your benefit until age 70. My question is, does a person have to delay for a full year for any increase, or is the 8% prorated for each month that a person delays the start of the benefit?

Answer: You don't need to wait for a full year to get some credit. Delayed retirement credits are calculated for each month you wait beyond your full retirement age, which is 66 for people born from 1943 to 1954 and gradually rises to age 67 for people born after that. You'll get an extra 2/3 of 1% for each month you delay after your birthday month, adding up to 8% for each full year you wait until age 70.

The clock starts ticking the month you reach full retirement age. For example, if you were born on April 24, you'd reach your full retirement age on April 1. If you wait until May to take your benefits, you'll get 100.7% of your full retirement benefit. Wait one year and you'll get 108% of your benefit. You can earn delayed credits until age 70, when you'd receive 132% of your full retirement benefit. For example, if you'd receive $1,000 per month at your full retirement age of 66, delaying your benefits to age 70 would boost your monthly check to $1,320.

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For more information and a calculator to show you how much your benefits would increase by waiting, based on your year of birth, see the Social Security Administration's Delayed Retirement Credits page. Also see Social Security's When to Start Receiving Retirement Benefits. For factors to consider when deciding whether to delay receiving benefits, see 5 Keys to Your Social Security Benefits Strategy.

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Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.