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Making Every Month Count – Excerpt from A Social Security Owner’s Manual, 3rd Edition

You can listen to this article by using the podcast player below if you’re on the blog; if you’re reading this via RSS, there should be a “Play Now” link just below the title to access the audio.

monthDid you realize that even delaying a few months can have a significant impact on your Social Security benefit? This is the case for all Social Security benefits, including your own, a Spousal Benefit, or a Survivor Benefit. This applies whether you are taking the benefit before FRA or after, since your age is always calculated by the month. Increase or reduction factors are applied for each month of delay or early application, respectively.

Early Application Factors

For each month prior to your Full Retirement Age (FRA), a reduction factor is applied. For the 36 months just prior to your FRA, your benefit is reduced by 5/9 of 1% (0.005556) – so applying a full 36 months prior to FRA will result in a reduction of 20% (5/9% * 36 = 20%). Any months greater than 36 will result in a 5/12 of 1% reduction (0.004167), which means applying an additional year earlier will result in 5% more reduction, added to the 20%.

For each month after age 62 you delay applying for benefits, you’ll increase the amount of your actual benefit – delaying to age 63 will eliminate 5% of the reduction versus applying at age 62. If your FRA is 66, delaying to age 64 will eliminate an additional 6.66% of reduction, as will delaying each additional year up to FRA. But the key is that even a few months’ delay can increase your benefit. The amount of your benefit when you file is permanent, unless some other factor impacts it such as suspending or working while receiving benefits.

Delayed Application Factors

When you delay applying for benefits past your FRA, you receive an increase in your benefit above your PIA. These increases are known as Delayed Retirement Credits, or DRCs. DRCs are better than the increase (or rather, lack of decrease) you achieve by delaying application after age 62. For each month you delay applying for benefits beyond FRA your benefit will increase by 2/3 of 1%, for a total increase each year of 8% (a little less for folks born prior to 1943).

So – make every month count! If you can delay even by a few months it can make a long-lasting difference in your lifetime benefits – and potentially for your spouse as well, if he or she survives you.

It should be noted that DRCs only accrue up to age 70. At age 70 your increase factors have maximized and no further factors will be applied. Of course, if you’re still working and earning fat cash your benefit could possibly continue to increase beyond your age 70, but that’s a topic for another time. Suffice it to say there is no additional DRC earned after you’ve reached age 70, so the latest age you should file for retirement benefits is age 70.

So those are your delay factors – use them wisely!

A Social Security Owner’s Manual 3rd Edition Now Available

The wait is over! The 3rd Edition of A Social Security Owner’s Manual has just been published and is available on! You can find the paperback version by going to this link, or if you prefer the Kindle variety (all the cool kids do!) you can find the Kindle version by clicking this link.

Thanks to everyone who helped out on the latest edition – with your comments, suggestions, and pointing out my typos. I hope you get as much benefit from the book as I have enjoyed producing it. Let me know if you have suggestions for future editions!


  1. Anne says:

    Hi Mr. Jim Blankenship:
    Thank you very much! You wrote: You can apply for benefits later than age 70 if you become eligible (you’ve earned enough credits) after that age…” This is excellent news for me ! I thought 70 was the last day to apply for “Retirement Benefits”!! great news!!! I am 63 y. now so I have time to earn credits; I now have an incentive to go forward with my “Spa/Soap gift baskets”; which would be to report income taxes and possibly earn credits !! being 63 is just the beginning!

    Trivia: (Laura Ingalls Wilder; Little House on the Prairie author) began writing here novels at the age of 75 !! Other people began 2nd careers at a later age too.

    Thank you very much !!! This is a great Christmas Present work incentive for me!!
    Seasons Greetings to all; thanks again very much; your fan; Anne R. Conn. USA:)

  2. Anne says:

    Hi Jim: I have listened to the audio 3x and enjoyed hearing your info…my question:

    What is the latest age a citizen can apply for SSA Full Retirement Age ? If FRA is 70; would this be the day I turn 70 y. or the day before I turn 71 ?

    I am desperately trying to earn SSA Work Credits before I turn 71 if possible.
    I am trying to get SSA Work Credits from previous work I did not pay taxes; I worked as “the superintendent for 7 years; and would be happy to pay SSA taxes.
    Thank you and Happy Holidays to all !!!
    Summary: Can I earn SSA Work Credits after the age of 70 years old ? Anne 1951

    1. jblankenship says:

      Hi Anne –

      You can apply for benefits later than age 70 if you become eligible (you’ve earned enough credits) after that age. You can earn credits at any time in your life, so even after age 70 you can still earn credits.

      Hope this helps –


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