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Early Retirement Self Employed

Hi - I am considering early retirement (I'm 63)  I have owned my business (embroidery) since 2000.  I have cut down my business in the past 3-4 years.  I don't take on new customers  - 95% of my business is wholesale embroidery (I do work for 2 companies - they get the jobs/customers to me and I put the embroidered logo on the items).  The more items they bring, the cheaper the cost.  My net income has been below what the SS limit is for that isn't a concern.

However, because I do wholesale embroidery, it can take quite a few hours for relatively minimal pay (if it's large order).  The "substantial services" rule is confusing me.  Some months I might not work more than 45 hours in a month, but today one of my customers sent in a large order  - it's going to take more than 45 hours to complete.  Things can literally change daily - yesterday I didn't know about this order, today I do. 


How am I supposed to "know" what months I'll be over the 45 hours and what months I won't?  Does the  "substantial services" rule apply every month until I reach FRA?  The way it looks to me on the application, I have to let them know which months I MAY make over the limit or work more than 45 hours.  If I do file - and indicated I wouldn't be over the $ limit or hours for example June-Dec....but then something like this occurs, what do I do?  Do I call them?

I'm not at a point to completely stop working  - I need something to do part-time and the extra income would help.  My husband is retiring in Jan 2022 (age 64).  We plan on getting out of the snow for a few months next Spring and have time to do what we want to do. 

Sorry for rambling, but this this so confusing to me. 

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Regular Contributor

I think that this rule does not apply to you as it is a rule for "people who file for benefits mid-year have already earned more than their yearly earnings limit amount." Since you earn under your limit for the entire year, this would not apply to you.

Read closely at


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