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I understand that delaying taking social security from full retirement age (67, based on my birth year) until age 70 results in a 24% increase in the monthly benefit, or 8% per year.

Is this amount in addition to the cost of living adjustment?

If so, is it additional or multiplicative? By that I mean if the COLA for year 1 is 5%, does that mean my benefit in nominal terms goes up by 5% then by 8% for a total of 13.4% or does it go up by the combined amount of 5% + 8% = 13%?

  • The Social Security calculators are assuming that your current rate of earnings will continue till age 70. Since benefits are computed from the SS earnings of your highest 35 years, for many people, this means that low-salaried years at the beginning of the career are being replaced by high-earnings years at the end. But if your salary goes down, e.g. you switch to part-time work, then the estimate can be off by quite a bit. You don't get COLAs until you start drawing Social Security benefits. – Dilip Sarwate Apr 2 '14 at 23:23
  • I thought that the 8% was if one retired at 62, but delayed the start of benefits. And the 8% was real, i.e. in addition to inflation. Dilip's answer and mine would be exactly opposite, so we need to get researching to help answer this. – JoeTaxpayer Apr 3 '14 at 0:38
  • @DilipSarwate You're right that there are no COLAs until retirement (strictly speaking) but the PIA bend points used to determine the initial year's benefit are also indexed. See ssa.gov/OACT/cola/piaformula.html and ssa.gov/OACT/cola/bendpoints.html ... The bend points are indexed according to the National Average Wage Index, not the CPI. – Chris W. Rea Apr 3 '14 at 2:15
  • I suggest a look at socialsecurity.gov/OACT/quickcalc/index.html When I enter that I've already stopped working, and ask for my benefit in 2024 (age 62) or 2029 (age 67) I see an increase of 63%, despite the same site's infographic showing a 44% increase between those same ages. – JoeTaxpayer Apr 3 '14 at 2:23
  • Try the more detailed downloadable calculator at this URL – Dilip Sarwate Apr 3 '14 at 2:44
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I'm adding this as it seems we've come to a conclusion, but strictly among the comments. Your comment nails it -

"After the PIA is established, the bonus for delaying is applied. Begin at age 68 and you get PIA x 108%, age 69 gets PIA x 116%, and age 70 gets PIA x 124%. Since it is not compounded, the increase from age 69 to 70 is more like 7%."

One good feature of the SSA.gov site is the ability to forecast your benefit, either COLA adjusted or not. So, I can see my benefit with either the 8% year on year increase, or with COLA included.

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