Dear Dr. Don, If I take my Social Security benefits at my full retirement age (66) and then continue to work until I am 70 years old, will my monthly benefit be raised to the amount I would have received if I had waited to retire at age 70?
Thanks. -- Ron Retiring
Dear Ron, If you file for benefits and receive them at your full retirement age, they will increase each year by any cost-of-living adjustment. But you won't receive the 8% increases you would get each year if you were to wait to file, up to age 70.
For you to earn delayed retirement credits and continue to see your monthly benefit increase until you turn 70, you have to either "file and suspend" your benefits at full retirement age or simply delay claiming benefits until age 70. People "file and suspend" at full retirement age so their spouse can receive a spousal benefit while they wait to collect their own benefits.
Let's say you attain full retirement age and do file for Social Security. If you continue to work, your benefits won't be reduced. Also, the Social Security Administration will take your earnings into account. If your latest year of earnings turns out to be one of your highest years, the Social Security Administration refigures your benefit and pays you any increase due.
For those whose full retirement age is 66, delaying filing for benefits until age 70 gives them a benefit that is 132% of the benefit they would have received at age 66. In your situation, by collecting Social Security benefits and continuing to work, your post-retirement earnings could raise your benefit amount, though not likely to that 132% level.
Thanks to Edward Lafferty, public affairs specialist at the Social Security Administration, for helping me with this reply.