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Earnings limits the first partial year on SS

Regular Contributor

Earnings limits the first partial year on SS

I applied for SS at age 62 and my first check will arrive in october 2019 this month. My old company has called me up asking me to do some work.

My only earnings in 2019 have been $5600 made in January 2019,  nothing in Q2 or Q3. I know the annual earnings cap is $17640.

I have conflicting advice from SS as it relates to the partial year on SS

One SS advisor said I can only earn $1470 a month once I apply for SS during my partial year on SS. So she says all I can earn is $1470 a month or face giving back some of the SS based on october november and december earnings that go over that monthly limit

Another advisor said I can earn up to $12,000 in the months of Oct Nov and December as that will not take me over the annual limit and being a partial year SS does not enter into it.

What is the real case for me? I don't want to suspend my filing .

In the case of a partial year on SS with my earning only being $5600 prior to filing what can i really earn these last three months and not impact my SS.

Bronze Conversationalist

It's not just monthly earnings, but hours you put in. You might want to look at the planning pages on - and or, if you are still uncertain, contact the SSA by one of their suggestions on


Also, realize that any earnings you continue to get by being employed and any immediate effects to your SS income will add back into your benefits later.


Good luck with your searches.



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Regular Contributor

I've read page 4  but in their example the person earned 45K before retirement .  I only earned $5600 well below the $17640 annual cap.       So does the $1470 a month still apply to me? 


The other problem is I did contact SSA but got to diferent answers. 



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Honored Social Butterfly

There is a Special rule for your situation.

Social - How Work Affects Your Benefitt


At the bottom of page 4, it talks about the Special Rule for Receiving Benefits in the 1st year if younger than full retirement age.  This is where that monthly limit of $1470 comes in for those months after you begin your benefits.




It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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Regular Contributor

I've read page 4  but in their example the person earned 45K before retirement .  I only earned $5600 well below the $17640 annual cap.       So does the $1470 a month still apply to me? 

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Honored Social Butterfly



Here is the SS calculator for this purpose - you can put in your own numbers and dates  to check the outcome

Social Security Retirement Earnings Test Calculator


I put in the following to check it -

DOB 09/02/1957

Estimated earning:  $ 17,400

Estimated monthly benefit:  $ 1480

Is the current year the first year you are receiving benefits?  YES


Based on my test input info (above) - I got the following reply


If all your earnings occur before the first month for which you could receive benefits (your month of entitlement), then your benefits would not be affected by the retirement earnings test. Otherwise your benefits may be affected by the monthly earnings test. The monthly earnings exempt amount under this test is $1,470.00 in 2019.

Information you submitted
Birth date:  9/2/1957
Estimated earnings in 2019:  $17,400.00
Monthly benefit in 2019:  $1,480.00
First entitled in 2019? Yes
It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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Regular Contributor

If all your earnings occur before the first month for which you could receive benefits (your month of entitlement), then your benefits would not be affected by the retirement earnings test. Otherwise your benefits may be affected by the monthly earnings test.


This is always the issue . .   It MAY be ..   well it ether is or it is not. 

So SS tell me two things their own calculator provided a wishy washy answer.      If I coul make up to 4K  this month that would be great but if I have to give back $1 for evey 2 dollars I earn there is not much point as I got taxed on that $2 I earned as well  Fed State and local.       


Don't say it all comes back to you eventially as your benefit gets recalculated.    No one in my family on either side  has made it past 73 that is why I chose to draw early. 


Well I will go in and say sorry , no can do next week   


thanks for your help       



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Honored Social Butterfly



That's the way I understand it and it seems to be the way SS is talking about it.  That is to say, in the 1st year of filing for benefits BEFORE FULL RETIREMENT AGE - there is not only an annual earnings limit ( 2019 - $ 17,640) before it affects your benefit, there is also a monthly earnings figure which they think you will report as you work months AFTER declaring retirement in that year.  That monthly figure limit is ( 2019) $1470. 


Would they actually know this by month????- NO -

Only IF YOU declare it that way because your employer identifies you individually only when they submit your W-2 info to them (a copy of the W-2 goes to the SSA) at year end - otherwise your employer just sends in (deposits to Uncle Sam) the balanced amount of money on a quarterly/ monthly / weekly basis depending upon the overall amount they have withheld and matched the employment taxes - at this interval, there is no identifying employee info.   The W-2 covers the whole year (2019), not by month.


SSA depends on the beneficiary to report their income so that if an adjustment is necessary, it can happen sooner than later -. (bottom of page)

If you need to report a change in your earnings after you begin receiving benefits:

If you receive benefits and are under full retirement age and you think your earnings will be different than what you originally told us, let us know right away. You cannot report a change of earnings online. Please call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, or contact your local Social Security office.


What I would do in your situation - I would earn up to $ 17,640  (2019) n this 1st year as a new beneficiary being less than FRA.   Now that's for the WHOLE year - before and after you begin benefits so not $ 1.00 more.  If your 2019 W-2 shows more than this, you will get a letter sometimes next year.


That's just what I would do.  I just don't see anyway they can verify by month unless you report it.

Just stay under the whole 2019 earnings figure - $ 17,640.


From Motley Fool - 2019 Social Security Earnings Test Limits


1. If you'll reach full retirement age after 2019

The most restrictive form of the Social Security earnings test applies to people who have claimed Social Security benefits but won't reach their full retirement age until after the current calendar year. In other words, if you'll reach your full retirement age on Jan. 1, 2020, or later, this is the rule that applies to you.


For 2019, people in this category will have $1 of their Social Security benefits withheld for every $2 in earned income in excess of $1,470 per month, or $17,640 per year.

Say you'll be younger than your full retirement age for the entirety of 2019, and your monthly retirement benefit is $1,200. Here are a few scenarios:

  • If you earn $15,000 from working part-time during 2019, you won't have exceeded the Social Security earnings test limit and can collect your full $1,200 monthly retirement benefit all year long.
  • If you earn $25,000 from working during 2019, this is $7,460 in excess of the limit. Based on the $1 per $2 withholding rate, that means $3,730 would be withheld from your benefits for the year. I'll get to how the SSA does this later, but the takeaway is that instead of receiving $14,400 in Social Security benefits during the year, you'd get $10,670 instead. So you'd collect some, but not all, of your Social Security benefit.
  • Finally, if you earn $80,000 from working in 2019, that would be $62,460 greater than the limit. Based on the calculation, it would translate to $31,230 in withholdings. That's more than your Social Security retirement benefit, so your entire Social Security benefit for 2019 would be withheld in this scenario.


Just make sure you know your running earnings figure for 2019.

The amount goes up in 2020 - but I don't know what it is right yet.

You will be fine - earn it while you can just try to keep it under the annual limit until you reach FRA.







It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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Regular Contributor

Thanks .     I was thinking the special rule was a prorating of the $17640 annual allowance but often the SS examples assumption is that many people have earned this much or more  as they go into retirement.  The examples do not address my exact situation of not having anywhere close to that threshold.      Getting two different answers from SS reps and the one specific to my situation was a concern saying no problem but with a tinge  of uncertainty.     The last thing I need is a letter in 2020 saying send me back a few thousand dollars..   


When I did apply for SS in person they did ask how much I made this year and I told them the $5600 number in Q1 as I never expected to be called in by my old company,  so they must have put that in a data base somewhere.   I do have  degee of control on the work flow for this project.    I will not work over the $1470 limit in October for certain based on what I know about the project today, especially with holidays and year end vacations impacting participants availability.    Depending on the level of support the project recieves internally I may never exceed the pure monthly threshold in 2019.     A lot of time will be  spent in January on presentations and analysis of global submissions but at that time the monthly cap does not impact me. 


Thanks for the assistance.      I wish SS did not give conflicting advice but this was not the first time I got conflicting SS office answers.    I always check twice as sometims the sound of their voices make it obvious they are not sure of what they are telling you.    Like may organizations a lot of experienced  senior people have been pushed out and the Jr staff dont have the same experiences so read from a script but don't do the needed anaysis. 




So I think I will 

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