Some Social Security Basics

Social Security is the largest source of retirement income for most retirees, but the choices of when and how to file are more complicated than most people realize. Despite the importance of this income, most retirees do not maximize their Social Security income. More than 90% of retirees commence their Social Security benefits prior to age 70, even though a retiree who defers taking Social Security from age 62 to age 70 will increase their Social Security income by up to 76%.

Benefit Statements 

Mailed benefit statements are being phased out. Enroll online at for a printable copy of your current statement or call 1-800-772-1213.


Social Security retirement benefits are based on the highest 35 years of your inflation-adjusted earned income. Benefits include cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) which historically have averaged around 2.6% per year. While Social Security retirement benefits cease at death, your spouse or minor child may be entitled to Social Security survivor benefits.


You are eligible and can file for Social Security retirement benefits at age 62 if you have paid into Social Security for a minimum of 40 quarters. If you have not yet filed for Social Security, your retirement benefits increase 6% per year between age 62 and your full retirement age, and 8% per year between your full retirement age and age 70.