If you retire at age 70 this year, you can collect the maximum Social Security benefit of $4,194 per month, and you can keep your new money stream working for you, even if you've stop working yourself.

That's true, of course, regardless of when you retire or how much you're collecting each month. Investing in stocks that generate passive income can give you both portfolio growth and spending money from dividend payments. A great place to look is in real estate investment trusts (REITs).

REITs are pools of income-producing property that are obliged by tax law to pay at least 90% of their taxable income to shareholders. There are more than 200 publicly traded REITs covering a wide range of industries, providing the opportunity to diversify and choose particularly promising industry sectors.

Alexandria Real Estate Equities (ARE 0.71%) and Gladstone Commercial (GOOD) are two that I own that I plan to hang on to as I move through my retirement years, which have just begun.

Alexandria is a major owner-operator of life sciences properties, while Gladstone Commercial invests in office and industrial space. The former behaves a bit more like a growth stock and the latter a bit more like an income stock, as you can see in this chart, which shows their respective price movement and yield over the past 10 years.

ARE Chart

ARE data by YCharts

The prospects for Gladstone and Alexandria

There are no guarantees here, of course, but both these companies have long records of solid performance and good prospects. Gladstone Commercial is one of the four Gladstone companies, all of which pay monthly dividends. The other three are Gladstone Land, Gladstone Investment, and Gladstone Capital.

As for Gladstone Commercial, that income comes from a current portfolio of 136 properties in 27 states with a client list of 112 tenants in 19 industries. The current mix is 52% industrial and 44% office, but the company plans to focus on industrial in the future.

CEO David Gladstone said in a Motley Fool Live interview on Aug. 23 that all 15 of that REIT's current acquisition prospects are industrial properties and that he has serious doubts about the office sector as the nature of the workplace evolves.

He also said his company intentionally manages its holdings to provide a steady, predictable stream of income. Gladstone Commercial does it particularly well, having provided 122 straight monthly payments and a yield of about 7.5% -- among the highest from equity REITs -- that hasn't changed that much over the past decade.

Alexandria stock, meanwhile, is yielding about 3% and is building on a record of 13 straight years of at least one dividend increase. The owner of about 75 million square feet of high-end lab and office space gathered in collaborative clusters in markets such as Boston, San Francisco, New York City, and North Carolina's Research Triangle is coming off one of its strongest quarters yet, with rent increases and demand for space in its growing portfolio promising more strong performance to come.

A look at total return and the power of dividends

Back to that point about Alexandria being a bit more of a growth stock and Gladstone Commercial a bit more of an income play. It turns out, in terms of total return, the difference isn't all that great over the long run between those two.

Check out this chart. It shows that Gladstone Commercial's share price is up only about 16% in the past 10 years, but because of dividend payouts, total return is nearly 160%. Alexandria stock, meanwhile, is up about 118% over that time and the total return is about 196%.

ARE Chart

ARE data by YCharts

The chart also demonstrates the power of compounding through reinvestments, if you don't take the money and run each month. But don't expect to double your money or anything near that without substantial skin in that specific game. To make $4,200 a month from dividends, you would need, for example, to collect a yield of about 5% on about $1 million invested.

That's not realistic or advisable if you're thinking about putting a great majority of your investable assets in just two stocks -- these or any other.

But splitting your $4,194 -- or any other amount -- between Alexandria and Gladstone Commercial would still give you a current yield of roughly that 5%. Alexandria pays quarterly and Gladstone monthly, but either way and collectively, that's not too shabby, especially for those looking to shine up their golden years, for now or later.