Ask Stacy: Can I Increase My Social Security After I Retire?

If you keep working after you start getting Social Security, it's possible to get bigger monthly checks. Here's how.

Ask Stacy: Can I Increase My Social Security After I Retire? Photo by stockfour / Shutterstock.com

Welcome to “Ask Stacy,” a short video feature answering money questions submitted by readers and viewers.

Today’s question is on a popular topic: Social Security. It involves whether you have to continue paying into Social Security if you keep working after reaching full retirement age — and if you do, whether that could lead to bigger monthly checks.

The answers are interesting. Click on the video, and you’ll see what I mean. Or, if you prefer, scroll down to read the full transcript and find out what I said. You also can learn how to send in a question of your own below.

For more information on this topic, check out “12 Ways to Maximize Your Social Security Checks” and “5 Ways to Avoid Paying Taxes on Your Social Security Benefits.” You can also go to the search at the top of this page, put in the words “Social Security” and find plenty of information on just about everything relating to this topic.

Finally, if you’d like to explore claiming strategies that could result in bigger monthly checks, visit the Social Security page of our Solutions Center.

Got a question of your own to ask? Scroll down past the transcript.

Don’t want to watch? Here’s what I said in the video

Hello, everyone, and welcome to your money Q&A question of the day. I’m your host, Stacy Johnson, and this question is brought to you by MoneyTalksNews.com, serving up the best in personal finance news and advice since 1991.

Let’s get to today’s question. It comes to us from Victor:

“If I work after retiring at full retirement age, I’ll still pay Social Security taxes, right? Will that additional Social Security tax result in any recalculation and increase in my future Social Security benefit?”

So we’re all on the same page, let’s start by defining “full retirement age.” That’s the age at which you’re eligible for your full Social Security retirement benefit. For most of us, that age is around 66. For example, I’m 62 and my full retirement age is 66 years and two months.

Victor asks if he will still pay Social Security taxes if he works after reaching full retirement age. The answer is yes, he will. And the same would be true for you. Like any employee, you’ll have Social Security taken out of your paycheck every time you get one, no matter what age you are.

Next, “Will Social Security tax result in a recalculation of my Social Security, or maybe increase in my Social Security future benefit?” The answer to that question is also yes.

Keep in mind how Social Security is figured. To compute your benefit, they use your 35 highest-earning years. If one of those 35 highest-earning years happens to occur when you’re working during retirement, your benefit could be increased. In other words, if you earn money after your full retirement age, and you make more than you did in one of those 35 years, they’re going to drop your lowest-earning year and replace it with the current one.

How much will you have to earn to best a lower-earning year and replace it with a higher-earning one? The answer is easy to find. Go to SSA.gov. If you haven’t already, create an account. Then, you’ll be able to see what you’re likely to receive in Social Security benefits when your full retirement age rolls around.

You can also see your work history in terms of how much income you reported every year for your entire working life.

I recently looked at my history, all 47 years of it. I looked at my 35 highest-earning years. The lowest of the 35 was 1998, when I was struggling to make Money Talks News profitable and reported income of just $7,394. Since I’m now earning more, this year my 1998 earnings will fall off my record and my 2018 earnings will be added, thus slightly increasing my future lifetime retirement benefit.

It’s an interesting exercise to take a trip down memory lane and see how much you’ve made over the years. I encourage you to do it.

Hopefully that answers your question, Victor.

Now, let’s close as we always do, with our quote of the day. This comes from Robert Heinlein, a novelist and science-fiction writer.

“Money is the bugaboo of small minds.”

Meet me here next time and have a super-profitable day!

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The questions I’m likeliest to answer are those that will interest other readers. In other words, don’t ask for super-specific advice that applies only to you. And if I don’t get to your question, promise not to hate me. I do my best, but I get a lot more questions than I have time to answer.

About me

I founded Money Talks News in 1991. I’m a CPA, and have also earned licenses in stocks, commodities, options principal, mutual funds, life insurance, securities supervisor and real estate.

Got any words of wisdom you can offer on today’s question? Share your knowledge and experiences on our Facebook page. And if you find this information useful, please share it!

Stacy Johnson
Stacy Johnson @moneytalksnews
I'm the founder of Money Talks News and have spent the last 40+ years in the personal finance trenches. I'm a CPA, author of a few books and multiple Emmy recipient. I'm ... More

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