What happens if I work and get Social Security retirement benefits?

You can get Social Security retirement benefits and work at the same time. However, if you are younger than full retirement age and make more than the yearly earnings limit, we will reduce your benefit. Starting with the month you reach full retirement age, we will not reduce your benefits no matter how much you earn.

  • We use the following earnings limits to reduce your benefits: If you are under full retirement age for the entire year, we deduct $1 from your benefit payments for every $2 you earn above the annual limit.

For 2018 that limit is $17,040.

  • In the year you reach full retirement age, we deduct $1 in benefits for every $3 you earn above a different limit, but we only count earnings before the month you reach your full retirement age.

If you will reach full retirement age in 2018, the limit on your earnings for the months before full retirement age is $45,360.

Starting with the month you reach full retirement age, you can get your benefits with no limit on your earnings.

Use our Retirement Age Calculator to find your full retirement age based on your date of birth.

Use our Retirement Earnings Test Calculator to find out how much your benefits will be reduced.

What counts as earnings:

When we figure out how much to deduct from your benefits, we count only the wages you make from your job or your net earnings if you're self-employed. We include bonuses, commissions, and vacation pay. We don't count pensions, annuities, investment income, interest, veterans, or other government or military retirement benefits.

 Your benefits may increase when you work:

As long as you continue to work, even if you are receiving benefits, you will continue to pay Social Security taxes on your earnings. However, we will check your record every year to see whether the additional earnings you had will increase your monthly benefit. If there is an increase, we will send you a letter telling you of your new benefit amount.

When you’re ready to apply for retirement benefits, use our online retirement application, the quickest, easiest, and most convenient way to apply.

If you need to report a change in your earnings after you begin receiving benefits:

If you receive benefits and are under full retirement age and you think your earnings will be different than what you originally told us, let us know right away. You cannot report a change of earnings online. Please call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, or contact your local Social Security office.

More Information

How Work Affects Your Benefits

Examples: How We Deduct Earnings From Benefits

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Topic Information
  • Topic #: 34011-3739
  • Date Created: 03/17/2014
  • Last Modified Since: 12/08/2017
  • Viewed: 5460645

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