How Much Can I Earn and Still Collect Social Security?

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Social Security Benefits is a very large part of total monthly income for may retirees. However, most seniors find that they have to continue to work to make ends meet, especially those who want an active, adventurous retirement. According to a 2015 AARP study, 49% of respondents said that Social Security income will comprise 40% or less of household income in retirement. Given this, it’s no surprise that one of the top questions we get from those applying for Social Security benefits is how much they can earn from working and still collect Social Security Benefits.

You can receive Social Security benefits and still work at the same time. However, if you are receiving benefits before your full retirement age, then there is a penalty if you earn more the yearly earnings limit. For 2018, the yearly earnings limit is $17,040 ($1,420 per month). If you earn more than the limit, your benefits are reduced by $1 for every $2 you earn over the limit.

In the year you reach full retirement age, your benefits are reduced by $1 for every $3 you earn above a different limit (but they only count earnings before the month you reach your full retirement age.) Which means that you can earn as much as $45,360 if you are reaching full retirement in 2018 before incurring the penalty.

Once you reach full retirement age, there is no limit on the amount of money you may earn and still receive your full Social Security retirement benefit.

The following counts as part of your earnings:

  • Wages you make from your job or your net earnings if you're self-employed.
  • Bonuses, commissions, and vacation pay.

The following do not counts as part of your earnings:

  • Pensions
  • Annuities
  • Investment income
  • Interest
  • Veterans, or other government or military retirement benefits.

March 16, 2018