How Much Can I Earn From Working While on Social Security?

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Depending on how much money you earn during your career, you may be able to afford to live off your monthly Social Security check. However, if you did not earn high wages before you retired, you might need to get a job to supplement your Social Security income. Factors like your age and when you filed to collect Social Security retirement benefits impact the amount of money you can earn while you work a part-time or full-time job.

Senior couple looking at bills
Senior couple looking at bills (Image: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

Work Credits

Before you collect Social Security retirement benefits, you must earn sufficient wages. According to the amount of gross wages you receive, the Social Security Administration gives you a work credit. As of April 2011, to receive Social Security retirement benefits, you must earn at least four work credits a year. The Social Security Administration records a work credit after you earn $1,200 in gross wages during a year. The maximum numbers of credits you can earn in a year are four.

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Roll of money (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Early Retirement

The earliest you can collect Social Security retirement benefits is at the age of 62 years. As of April 2011, if you retire early, the most you can earn a year without having money deducted from your monthly retirement check is $14,160. When you retire early, the Social Security Administration deducts $1 from your benefits for every $2 you earn above the annual limit. You must report your wages to the Social Security Administration each month.

Baby boomer couple
Baby boomer couple (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Full Retirement Year

After you reach the year of your full retirement age, you can earn up to $37,680 in annual wages before the Social Security Administration will deduct money from your monthly retirement check. Your full retirement age depends on the year you were born. For example, if you were born in 1937 or earlier, your full retirement age is 65. If you were born between 1943 and 1954, your full retirement age is 66. If you were born in 1960 or later, you will reach full retirement age at 67.

If you earn more than the annual limit before you reach full retirement age, the Social Security Administration deducts $1 for every $3 you earn above the annual limit. For example, if your birthday is April 2, 1946, you can earn up to $37,680 working a part-time or full-time job starting Jan. 1, 2011, without having deductions taken out of your monthly Social Security retirement check. However, if you earn $37,686 before you turn 66, Social Security will deduct $2 from your benefits. You have to continue reporting your wages to the Social Security Administration until your full retirement age arrives.

Senior couple
Senior couple (Image: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Full Retirement Age

Once you reach full retirement age, you no longer have to report your wages to the Social Security Administration. You can also earn as much as you want while working part-time and/or full-time jobs and receive all of your retirement benefits. If you wait until after you reach full retirement age to collect Social Security retirement benefits, the amount of monthly benefits you receive do not increase.

Retired couple
Retired couple (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

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