Working While on Social Security
You can receive Social Security retirement benefits and work at the same time, but your monthly benefits may be temporarily reduced. If you’ve reached full retirement age, there will be no reductions to your benefits, no matter how much you work. You can potentially increase your Social Security benefits with each additional year you work before you start collecting.
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Lindsey Crossmier is an accomplished writer with experience working for The Florida Review and Bookstar PR. As a financial writer, she covers Medicare, life insurance and dental insurance topics for RetireGuide. Research-based data drives her work.Read More
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- Reviewed ByBrandon Renfro, Ph.D., CFP®, RICP®, EA
Brandon Renfro, Ph.D., CFP®, RICP®, EA
Retirement and Social Security Expert
Brandon Renfro is a Retirement and Social Security Expert and financial planner. He focuses on helping clients create a secure financial future in retirement and co-owns Belonging Wealth Management. He is also a former finance professor and writes for several publications.Read More
- Published: January 4, 2021
- Updated: June 6, 2023
- 7 min read time
- This page features 5 Cited Research Articles
- Edited By
- You can continue to work and collect Social Security benefits, but your benefit could be reduced if you haven’t reached your full retirement age (FRA) yet.
- Even if your benefit is reduced, you will get the amount back once you’ve reached your FRA.
- Once you are your FRA, there is no limit to how much you can earn while collecting Social Security benefits.
- If you’re under your FRA for an entire year and start receiving benefits while working, your annual limit is $21,240 in 2023.
- If you’re still working during the year that you reach your full retirement age, your annual limit is $56,520 in 2023.
Can You Collect Social Security While Working?
You are allowed to collect Social Security while still working. If you’re making a higher income compared to previous years, it could potentially give you a larger benefit to support you during your retirement years.
What age you are when collecting benefits and working can alter your benefit amount. If you’re under your full retirement age (FRA), your benefit will be affected.
Your benefit will be reduced if you claim Social Security before your full retirement age and continue to work. Make sure you understand how this affects you before making a decision.
Impact on Your Retirement Benefits
Continuing to work while receiving benefits can affect your retirement benefit amount in one of two ways.
- If you start receiving retirement benefits before you reach your full retirement age, your benefits will be reduced if you make above a specific income limit.
- Retirement benefits are calculated based on your highest 35 years of earnings. If you make a high income in the past year, your benefit amount will be raised for future payments.
If you don’t want your benefits to be reduced, delay receiving your benefits until you reach your full retirement age. After you turn your full retirement age, there is no cap on how much you can earn while receiving benefits.
What Is Full Retirement Age?
Your full retirement age (FRA) is when you can claim 100% of your Social Security benefit. Not everyone has the same FRA — it varies depending on what year you were born. For example, if you were born in 1997, you will reach your FRA when you turn 67.
If you choose to start receiving benefits before you reach your full retirement age, your benefit will be reduced, whether you choose to continue to work or not. The Social Security Administration has example benefit amounts on their personalized statement, which shows how your age can affect your retirement benefit amount.
The statement shows a sharp difference between someone getting benefits before and at their FRA. At 67 years old, the statement shows a retirement benefit amount of $2,119 a month. When choosing to collect benefits early at 62 instead, the benefit amount drops to $1,465 a month. Note that benefit amounts are from a personalized example of a Social Security statement and won’t reflect your own benefit amounts.
Use the chart below to determine what your full retirement age is.
|Birth Year||Full Retirement Age|
|1937 or earlier||65|
|1938||65 and 2 months|
|1939||65 and 4 months|
|1940||65 and 6 months|
|1941||65 and 8 months|
|1942||65 and 10 months|
|1955||66 and 2 months|
|1956||66 and 4 months|
|1957||66 and 6 months|
|1958||66 and 8 months|
|1959||66 and 10 months|
|1960 and later||67|
How Much Can You Earn While Receiving Social Security?
If you continue to work after you reach your full retirement age, there is no limit to how much you can earn while receiving Social Security benefits. There are limits on how much you can earn if you’re under your full retirement age.
|Age||Your 2023 yearly earnings limit is:|
|If you’re under your full retirement age for the entire year||$21,240|
|In the year you reach your full retirement age*||$56,520|
*These earnings are only accounted for up to the month you turn your full retirement age, not the entire year.
Once you reach your full retirement age, the Social Security Administration will recalculate your benefit to return the amount that was reduced or withheld from your excess earnings. You won’t get the money back in one large lump-sum — it will come back over time through your recalculated benefits.
What Counts as Earnings?
Your wages and income from self-employment count as earnings for Social Security. There is a variety of income that won’t count as earnings and affect your benefits.
Refer to the list below when determining what will count as your earnings.
- Net earnings if you’re self employed
- Commissions and bonuses
- Vacation pay
- Investment income
- Veteran, government or military benefits
How To Report a Change in Your Earnings
You can report a change in your earnings to Social Security by calling them, updating your information online or visiting a local Social Security office near you.
- Call 1-800-772-1213. If you're deaf or hearing-impaired call TTY 1-800-325-0778.
- Report the change in earnings online on the Social Security website.
- Visit a local Social Security office.
If you’re trying to update your earnings and you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you can also use the free SSI Mobile Wage Reporting Smartphone app.
*Ads by Money. We may be compensated if you click this ad.
What Happens if You Earn Too Much?
If you earn too much and haven’t yet reached your FRA, your benefit amount will be reduced.
If you’re under your FRA for an entire year, $1 of will be deducted from your benefit payments for every $2 you earn above the annual limit. The annual limit in 2023 is $21,240.
In the year you reach your full retirement age, $1 will be deducted in benefits for every $3 you earn above a different annual limit. This annual limit is $56,520 in 2023.
Once you reach your FRA, there is no limit to how much you can earn.
Social Security Retirement Benefits and Income Taxes
If Social Security is your only income, you likely won’t pay taxes on your retirement benefits. However, if you’re working while receiving Social Security, part of your benefit could be taxed.
To determine how much of your benefit is taxable, the Social Security Administration uses a term called “combined income.” Combined income is the combination of your adjusted gross income, nontaxable interest and half of your Social Security benefit.
- Tax Rules if You’re Filing as Single
- If you file as single and your combined income is under $25,000, your retirement Social Security benefits will not be taxed.
If your combined income is between $25,000 and $34,000 for a single filer, up to 50% of your benefits are taxable.
If your combined income is more than $34,000, up to 85% of your benefits are subject to federal income tax.
- Tax Rules if You’re Filing Jointly
- If you and your spouse have a combined income that is under $32,000 your retirement Social Security benefits will not be taxed.
If you and your spouse have a combined income between $32,000 and $44,000 for a single filer, up to 50% of your benefits are taxable.
If your combined income is more than $44,000, up to 85% of your benefits are subject to federal income tax.
Regardless of your income level, no more than 85% of your Social Security benefits can be taxed.
Editor Samantha Connell contributed to this article.
5 Cited Research Articles
- ocial Security Administration. (2023). Receiving Benefits While Working. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/planner/whileworking.html
- Social Security Administration. (2021, August 19). Reporting Changes Is Your Responsibility. Retrieved from https://blog.ssa.gov/reporting-changes-is-your-responsibility/
- Social Security Administration. (n.d.). Income Taxes and Your Social Security Benefit. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/planner/taxes.html
- Social Security Administration. (n.d.). Normal Retirement Age. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/oact/progdata/nra.html
- Social Security Administration. (n.d.). What Income Is Included in Your Social Security Record? Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/planner/annuities.html