How working after retirement affects Social Security

Estate Planning | Mar 24, 2016 | Hook Law Center

There are people who wish to work when they have reached their 60s, 70s and beyond, but are concerned that their income will adversely affect their Social Security benefits. However, there is no cause for concern because according to the Social Security Administration (SSA), you do not run the risk of losing any Social Security benefits if you work past full retirement age, regardless of the amount of your earnings.

The SSA considers earnings to consist of the income earned from your job or your net income from self-employment. Earnings also include bonuses, commissions and vacation pay because they are relevant to employment. But pensions, investments and other retirement income are excluded.

If you are employed after you have attained full retirement age, your Social Security benefits can increase. The calculation of your Social Security benefits is based on the 35 years in which you earned the greatest amount of income. If your earnings past full retirement age replaces one of those 35 years, then the SSA will recalculate your benefits, and you could receive increased monthly benefits.

However, if you collect Social Security benefits prior to reaching full retirement age, and you keep working, then your benefits could be lowered. If you are under full retirement age for the whole year, the SSA will reduce your benefit payments by $1 for every $2 you earn in excess of the annual limit. In 2014, that limit was $15,480, and in 2015, it was $15,720.

In the year in which you attain full retirement age, the SSA reduces your benefits by $1 for every $3 you earn in excess of a different limit. In 2014, your earnings were limited to $41,400, but only the earnings prior to the month in which you reached full retirement age were counted. In 2015, your earnings were limited to $41,880.

The elder law attorneys at Hook Law Center assist Virginia families with will preparation, trust & estate administration, guardianships and conservatorships, long-term care planning, special needs planning, veterans benefits, and more. To learn more, visit or call 757-399-7506.

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