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Plan for retirement

Apply for your monthly retirement benefit any time between age 62 and 70. We calculate your payment by looking at how much you've earned throughout your life. The amount will be higher the longer you wait to apply, up until age 70. The timing is up to you and should be based on your own personal needs.

Other factors that can affect your amount

Paying for healthcare

You're eligible to get Medicare at age 65 and the sign-up process for Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) is completed through us. If you decide to sign up for Part B, the cost will be taken out of your monthly benefit amount. Be sure to plan ahead for that reduction.

Determine when to sign up for Medicare

Withholding taxes from benefit payments

You may pay federal income taxes on your benefits if your combined income (50% of your benefit amount plus any other earned income) exceeds $25,000/year filing individually or $32,000/year filing jointly. You can pay the IRS directly or have taxes withheld from your payment.

Request to withhold taxes

Continuing to work

Before Full Retirement Age (between age 66 and 67), your benefit payment will be temporarily reduced if you earn more than your earnings limit this year. You can work after Full Retirement Age and earn as much as you’d like without reducing your benefit payment.

Enter your birth date to see your 2024 annual limit

Knowing your "Full Retirement Age"

"Full Retirement Age" is a point in time between age 66 and 67, which we use to determine your benefit amount, as well as your family's benefits. Regardless of your Full Retirement Age, your payment will be higher the longer you wait to apply, up until age 70.

*If you were born Jan 1st, select the year before your birth year

When to apply

Timing your first benefit payment

You can time your first benefit payment to avoid a gap in income. Your first check won't arrive until the month after the one you pick in your application. You can apply any time up to four months before the month you pick.

For example, you want your first check in April. Follow this timing:

  • Apply in November, December, January, February, or March
  • Pick March in the application
  • Get the first check in April

Getting the maximum amount because of a current or former spouse's work

If you’re eligible because of a spouse’s work, the amount is at its highest at your “Full Retirement Age" (between 66 and 67). It doesn’t increase if you wait and apply after that time. If your spouse has passed away, you may be eligible for Survivor benefits starting at age 60, or at age 50 if you are disabled.

Learn more about Spouse and Survivor benefits.

Jobs with specific rules

Pensions from government jobs or jobs worked abroad without paying Social Security taxes

If you get a pension from a government job or a job worked in a foreign country, your monthly Social Security benefit amount may be reduced.

See how your pension may affect your benefits

Specific types of earnings

While Social Security earnings are calculated the same way for most jobs, there are some types of earnings with additional rules, including farm work, government and military work, railroad work, self-employment, and others.

See if your job has any specific rules