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Security benefits. However, if you receive benefits before reaching your full retirement age, your benefit amount will be reduced.

  • In the year you reach full retirement age, $1 in benefits will be deducted for each $3 you earn above the annual limit ($36,120 in 2008) until the month you reach full retirement age. After that, your benefits will not be reduced, no matter how much you earn.

  • In the years before you reach full retirement age, $1 in benefits will be deducted for each $2 you earn above the limit ($13,560 in 2008).

   If you lose benefits because of work, your benefit will be increased later to account for the months you didn’t receive a benefit before reaching full retirement age.

Delaying Retirement—You may decide to continue working beyond your full retirement age without choosing to receive benefits. If so, your benefit will be increased by a certain percentage for each month you don’t receive benefits between your full retirement age and age 70. This table shows the rate your benefits increase if you delay retiring.

Year of birth

Yearly increase rate

1937 - 1938


1939 - 1940


1941 - 1942


1943-or later


Applying For Social Security Retirement Benefits And Medicare—It’s best to contact Social Security three months before the month in which you want to receive retirement benefits to discuss the options that are available to you. In some cases, your choice of retirement month could mean additional benefits for you and your family.

    Even if you don’t plan to receive benefits because you’ll continue working, you should sign up for Medicare three months before reaching age 65 regardless of when you reach full retirement age. Otherwise, your Medicare medical insurance (Part B) could be delayed and you could be charged a higher premium.

How To Apply For Retirement Benefits—You can apply online at or by calling 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. If you’re deaf or hard of hearing, call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, to file your claim. You also can apply at any Social Security office. To avoid having to wait, you may want to call first to make an appointment.

   Be sure to have these items handy: your Social Security number, birth certificate, W-2 forms or selfemployment tax return for last year, and your bank name and account number so your benefits can be deposited directly into your account.

   In addition to the information listed above, you will need—

  • Your military discharge papers if you had military service;
  • Your spouse’s birth certificate and Social Security number and your marriage certificate if he or she is applying for benefits; and
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status if you were not born in the United States.

   You will need to mail or deliver original documents or copies that have been certified by the issuing office to a Social Security office.

Need More Information—You also have options for getting information about Social Security and retirement. Visit the "Plan your retirement" section of our website to estimate your Social Security benefits, find answers to frequently asked questions about Social Security, learn about factors that could affect your benefits and much more. And you can get information about Social Security by visiting a local Social Security office or by calling 1-800-772-1213.

   You can print these publications from our website.

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Last reviewed or modified Monday Jan 14, 2008
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