Social Security Matters – I’m 78 And Still Working; Should I Apply For Social Security?

By Rusty Gloor, National Social Security Advisor at the AMAC Foundation, the non-profit arm of the Association of Mature American Citizens

Dear Rusty: I am 78, still working, have a good healthcare plan and I make a nice salary. Can I still get my Social Security check since I paid into it all these years? Signed: Still Working in My 70s

Dear Still Working: You not only can get your Social Security check now, I recommend you apply for it as soon as possible. Regardless of your current earnings, you’ll not suffer any penalty because you are still working. That’s because you stopped being subject to Social Security’s “earnings test” when you reached your full retirement age (FRA) of 66 some years ago. Indeed, your Social Security benefit continued to grow until you reached 70 years of age, at which point it reached your maximum benefit, which is 32% more than your benefit would have been at age 66. 

Since your benefit reached maximum some years ago at age 70, and since working now won’t hurt your payment amount, you should claim your benefits immediately. You should also ask for six months of retroactive benefits. Although your benefit stopped growing at age 70 and you’re now 78, Social Security will only pay up to six months of retroactive benefits, thus you have lost some of your benefits by waiting until age 78 to claim.

You can apply for your benefits either by calling SS at your local office or the national Social Security service center at 1.800.772.1213 to make an appointment to apply, or you can apply online at Applying online is by far the most efficient method, but you’ll need to first create your personal “my Social Security” online account to do so (simply go to and follow the instructions).

Since you’re still working, and assuming you have “creditable” healthcare coverage from your employer, you can delay enrolling in Medicare until you stop working (“creditable” coverage is a group plan with at least 20 participants). If you haven’t yet enrolled in Medicare and you’ve had creditable healthcare coverage since you were 65, you will not incur a late enrollment penalty for enrolling in Medicare now, but you can also continue to defer enrolling in Medicare without penalty if your employer coverage is “creditable.”

I strongly encourage you to apply for your Social Security benefits as soon as possible, because you will continue to lose money by delaying further. You will still get credit for your current earnings even after you start your Social Security benefits and, if appropriate because of your recent earnings, your benefit amount will be automatically increased, so there is no reason to delay claiming Social Security any longer. You earned your Social Security benefits, you aren’t subject to a penalty because you’re still working, and you’ll continue to get credit for your current earnings while still working, so you should apply for your Social Security benefits as soon as possible.

This article is intended for information purposes only and does not represent legal or financial guidance. It presents the opinions and interpretations of the AMAC Foundation’s staff, trained and accredited by the National Social Security Association (NSSA). NSSA and the AMAC Foundation and its staff are not affiliated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other governmental entity. To submit a question, visit our website ( or email us at ssadvisor@amacfoundation.


  1. Yes! By all means! Let’s encourage people who are working, making “a nice salary,” and have “a good healthcare plan” to apply for Government aid. Because nothing says “wasteful, big-government, socialist-liberal dem” like giving free money to people who don’t need it. All you snowflakes that want the government to pay for your healthcare and retirement should move to socialist Europe. There’s no free ride here in USA!

    • While someone works they and their employer pay into the SS system — typically a total of 15% of one’s paycheck up to the annual cap.

      How is a SS payment “free money” after a worker and his/his employers makes these contributions?

      Same circumstances exist paying into the Medicare system during one’s working life.

      • The free money you get from SS is *not* what you put in. If you’re working today (and paying SS taxes), you’re giving money to the prior generation, who is already drawing SS monthly free money. Any money you may get will be from the sweat of the next generation. But the larger problem is, why would we want/expect the government to pay for our retirement or health care? This is not Socialist Europe. Her in USA, we pride ourself on self-sufficiency. If people can’t “afford” to retire, then they’re doing it wrong

        • Social Security is not welfare….. you have been programmed to see it that way, which is sad but it makes a good gop talking point doesn’t it. just like the welfare queen that never existed lol. Reagan made that up and ran with it….and the myth is still alive and well in some ignorant minds.

          • @Leighlah: How is it not welfare?!? It certainly isn’t an investment-based system. The amount of money you get is based on what the government wants to give you. It is a (poor) attempt to redistribute the wealth in this country. The fact that everyone (even millionaires) can collect SS should be more than enough reason to show that it is a free handout by the government for everyone. It serves no purpose except to keep people dependent on free government money.

            @NC Gal: All SS payments are made on the backs of the current workers. It isn’t “YOUR” money that SS recipients collect — it is the wages of prior workers. It is a poorly devised and run system. People should be paying for THEMSELVES — not prior generations.

        • So based on your comment the prior generation did not contribute to the Social Security system and are now collecting free money that the current working generation is contributing.

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