The Social Security earnings limits are established each year by the SSA. For 2020, those who are younger than full retirement age throughout the year can earn up to $18,240 per year without losing any of their benefits. After that, you’ll lose $1 of annual benefits for every $2 you make above the threshold.
En español | You can earn any amount and not be affected by the Social Security earnings test once you reach full retirement age, or FRA, which is age 66 and 2 months if you were born in 1955 and will gradually increase to age 67 for people born in 1960 and later.
If you are younger than full retirement age and earn more than the yearly earnings limit, we may reduce your benefit amount. 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 2021, that limit is $18,960.
When you reach your full retirement age, you can work and earn as much as you want and still get your full Social Security benefit payment. If you ‘re younger than full retirement age and if your earnings exceed certain dollar amounts, some of your benefit payments during the year will be withheld.
Widow or widower, full retirement age or older — 100 percent of the deceased worker’s benefit amount. Widow or widower, age 60 — full retirement age — 71½ to 99 percent of the deceased worker’s basic amount.
If you work and are full retirement age or older, you can earn as much as you want and your benefits will not be reduced. However, individuals may begin taking Social Security retirement benefits early beginning at age 62. Once you reach full retirement age, your benefits will no longer be reduced.
It’s best to wait until you’re 70 to start taking Social Security retirement benefits — even if it means tapping into your retirement assets at the bottom of a bear market. Why? Because the guaranteed, risk-free 8% annual Social Security benefit increase is an unbeatable deal.
You can start receiving your Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62. However, you are entitled to full benefits when you reach your full retirement age. If you delay taking your benefits from your full retirement age up to age 70, your benefit amount will increase.
If you claim Social Security at age 62, rather than wait until your full retirement age (FRA), you can expect up to a 30% reduction in monthly benefits. For every year you delay claiming Social Security past your FRA up to age 70, you get an 8% increase in your benefit.
However, if you live on Social Security benefits alone, you don’t include this in gross income. If this is the only income you receive, then your gross income equals zero, and you don’t have to file a federal income tax return.
Social Security benefits do not count as gross income. However, the IRS does count them in your combined income for the purpose of determining if you must pay taxes on your benefits.
The limit for countable resources is $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple.
In 2021, beneficiaries who are collecting Social Security prior to reaching their full retirement age and continue to work will have any income they earn over $18,960 taxed, an increase of $720 from 2020. One benefit dollar of ever $2 they earn above that limit will be withheld.
If you start receiving benefits at age 66 you get 100 percent of your monthly benefit. If you delay receiving retirement benefits until after your full retirement age, your monthly benefit continues to increase.
Social Security benefits are paid monthly, starting in the month after the birthday at which you attain full retirement age (which is currently 66 and will gradually rise to 67 over the next several years).