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Can you still work after you begin to collect Social Security Retirement?
The simple answer to this question is that you may work while receiving Social Security retirement benefits. However, although you are allowed to work while you receive retirement benefits, your work activity may have an effect on how many months per year you may receive a cash retirement benefit.
What do I mean by by this? Well, if you are receiving a reduced Social Security retirement benefit (i.e., you began receiving Social Security prior to your full retirement age), then your retirement benefit will be subject to the yearly earnings limit.
For instance, the 2007 yearly earnings limit is 12,960.00. If your work activity exceeded that amount in 2007 you would be responsible for repaying one out of every two dollars that you were over that limit.
If you’re receiving a reduced benefit, it is a good idea to take your prior year W2 form to your local Social Security office, so that they can add those wages to your earnings record.
Why is this beneficial to you, the Social Security retirement recipient? Because reporting your wages may increase your monthly Social Security benefit amount. Remember, Social Security will base your retirement benefit on your best thirty-five years of work. Therefore, if your W2 earnings replace a low year in the thirty-five year computation, your monthly Social Security benefit may increase.
Additionally, you should give the Social Security Administration an accurate estimate of what your expected current year earnings will be. Giving an accurate work estimate every January or February will prevent you from becoming overpaid and will prevent Social Security from holding your monthly cash benefit until it has collected the anticipated overage (the amount you are over the earnings limit).
What does this essentially mean? It means that you may be able to work at a level above the earnings limit and still receive a monthly cash benefit from Social Security for a few months per year. Of course, if your earnings are exceedingly high, you may not receive any monthly cash retirement benefit from the Social Security Administration for the entire year.
If you happen to be in your full retirement year, the yearly earnings limit is much higher, and the earnings limit will only be in place until the month of your full retirement. For instance, if your full retirement age is in October, then the earnings limit will only affect your benefit January through September of that year. If you earn less than the full retirement year earnings limit, you may be paid every month of your full retirement year.
Of course, once you reach your full retirement, Social Security no longer holds you to any earnings limitations. Consequently, overpayments are rare during the full retirement year. However, even if an individual is overpaid during the months prior to their full retirement age, they will only be held accountable for repaying one out of every three dollars that they have exceeded the limit.
For more information about social security retirement, or disability and work related questions you should contact your local Social Security office or call the Social Security toll free number 1-800-772-1213.
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