Social Security: What Are Delayed Retirement Credits & How Can You Use Them For A Bigger Check

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Delayed retirement credits are a perk the Social Security Administration offers you for waiting to draw on your benefits. Your monthly benefit is increased by a certain percentage for each month you delay starting your benefits beyond full retirement age. Once you reach that age — which is typically 67 — you can request a benefits check.

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The benefit increase stops when you reach age 70, which is the maximum distribution age. This means delayed retirement credits apply to any benefit you decide to take past your full retirement age, so a relatively short period of time, but worth the increase. The most a lump sum check will ever be is six months of benefits, which could be up to $9,000.

Delayed retirement credits are worth 8% a year, or two-thirds of 1% a month, and you can accrue them up until age 70. The table below shows how you can accrue these specific percentages based on your age.

Year of Birth*12-Month Rate of IncreaseMonthly Rate of Increase
1933-19345.5%11/24 of 1%
1935-19366.0%1/2 of 1%
1937-19386.5%13/24 of 1%
1939-19407.0%7/12 of 1%
1941-19427.5%5/8 of 1%
1943 or later8.0%2/3 of 1%

Because of changes in FRA, the opportunity to collect delayed retirement credits will shrink beginning next year.

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The Social Security Administration states that if you’ve already reached full retirement age, you can choose to start receiving benefits before the month you apply. However, you cannot receive retroactive benefits for any month before you reach full retirement age or more than six months in the past. 

The earlier your full retirement age, the more credits you can accrue by waiting. Your specific situation will depend on whether or not you are able to wait for retirement benefits, but waiting will undoubtedly boost your monthly benefit. No matter how long you wait though, age 70 is the maximum age where credits stop accruing. If you have income from other retirement accounts, waiting to take social security could net you an increase without having to compromise on income in general.

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About the Author

Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who studied post-industrial capitalist structures at New York University. She has eight years of experience with concentrations in asset management, portfolio management, private client banking, and investment research. Georgina has written for Investopedia and WallStreetMojo. 
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