Plan your retirement with Social Security

By Hillary Hatch, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

Social Security benefits factor into the retirement plan of almost every American worker.  If you are covered under Social Security, you should know how much you might receive in future benefits.  These monthly payments are likely to be an important part of your retirement income.

We base your benefit payment on how much you earned during your working career.  Higher lifetime earnings result in higher benefits.  If there were some years you didn’t work or had low earnings, your benefit amount may be lower than if you had worked steadily or had higher earnings.  Even if you never worked and did not pay Social Security taxes, you may be eligible for benefits from a spouse’s record. You must be at least 62 years old, and your spouse must already be receiving retirement or disability benefits.

Our Retirement page at is a great place to start mapping out your retirement plan. 

For example, have you considered: 

  • When is the right time for you to start receiving your retirement benefits?
  • What documents you may need to provide Social Security for your retirement application?
  • Which factors may affect your retirement benefits?

You can use your personal my Social Security account at to get an instant estimate of your future retirement benefits.  You can also see the effects of starting your retirement benefits at different ages. 

You may also be wondering about:

  • Benefits for a spouse or children.
  • How work affects your benefits.
  • If you will have to pay taxes on your benefits.
  • Medicare.

You can learn more at Please share this information with your loved ones to help them prepare for their retirement.

Hillary Hatch is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at