Alert
Close

Join the Drive to End Hunger! Watch the NASCAR race on Sunday at Kansas Speedway.

AARP's Social Security Q&A Tool

How are Social Security benefits calculated?

En español | When you apply for benefits, Social Security looks at how much you earned during your highest-paid 35 years of work. (If you worked for fewer years, say, 30, the other five will be counted as zeroes.) Computers at the agency will calculate an average of your earnings and use that to figure out how much you'll receive in benefits each month. Generally the formulas replace a higher portion of income for low-income people than for high-income ones. If you continue to work after beginning retirement benefits, Social Security will look at your income record once a year. If the income from a new year of work exceeds that of any of the top 35, these years will replace the lower-earning years (or zeroes) in your record and perhaps increase your benefits.

submit a question to
AARP EXPERTS

Didn’t see the answer to your question? Help us improve the tool by submitting your Social Security question. Go

Search Social Security Q&A Tool

Enter a keyword to get all the answers to your Social Security questions.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

UPS Store membership discount aarp benefits

Members save 15% on eligible products/services, 5% on UPS shipping at The UPS Store®.

membership adt

Small business owners save 20% on new installation of any new ADT security system.

Mujer en la parte de afuera de so negocio

Free quotes for members from the AARP® Small Business Insurance Program.

Member Benefits

Renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.