This question concerns Social Security payment in USA. Looking on AARP website (https://www.aarp.org/retirement/social-security/benefits-calculator/), it seems your monthly benefits are calculated based on your best 35 years. I'm a couple of months short of my full retirement age and have not started to take the benefits. I intend to start taking benefits at age 68, two years from now. My best years wages-wise were 25 to 20 years ago. So by continuing to work for a year or two for low wages (much lower than my best years) and delaying starting benefits, will I adversely affect the amount I'll receive at 68? For SS purposes I have 36 years work history in US.

The reason I ask, is that the monthly benefit for me at 68 that's on the letter I periodically receive from the SS Admin is smaller than it used to be.

  • The reason the amount is smaller is that it's been calculated based on your predicted income. Basically, they've been guessing your present & future earnings based on your past earnings. If for instance you earned $100K/yr up to age 60, then suddenly went to $25K/yr, it takes their algorithm some time to take the new income level into account.
    – jamesqf
    Mar 29, 2021 at 17:58
  • 1
    It might be a better idea to use the SSA's own website to estimate your benefit, it can factor in exactly the numbers they will use. ssa.gov/myaccount/retire-calc.html
    – JohnFx
    Mar 30, 2021 at 1:20

1 Answer 1


No, it won't have an adverse effect, and it may have a positive effect.

Social Security considers your best 35 years. If these couple years of low wages include earning less than any of those 35 years, they will not be included in the calculation. If they are better than any of those 35 years, they will be included and the lesser ones will get excluded.

  • 1
    Also, the calculation applies an inflation factor to all but the few most recent years.
    – jamesqf
    Mar 29, 2021 at 17:55
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    @yoozer8 Thank you for this. Thanks to james also.
    – Flynn
    Mar 29, 2021 at 20:17

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