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Working While Receiving Social Security Benefits

Social Security has some 2,700 rules, and one of the most confusing and misunderstood is the retirement earnings test (RET).1 Some people may think they can’t work — or shouldn’t work — while collecting Social Security benefits. But that’s not the case. However, it’s important to understand the RET and how it may affect your income.

Full retirement age based on birth year: 1943–1954 is 66, 1955 is 66 and 2 months, 1956 is 66 and 4 months, 1957 is 66 and 6 months, 1958 is 66 and 8 months, 1959 is 66 and 10 months, and 1960 and later is 67


Full Retirement Age

Birth year

1943–1954 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
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

Note: If you were born on the first of a month, the SSA calculates your benefit and full retirement age as if you were born in the previous month. If you were born on January 1, it calculates as if you were born in December of the previous year.


The RET might seem like a stiff penalty, but the deducted benefits are not really lost. Your Social Security benefit amount is recalculated after you reach full retirement age. For example, if you claimed benefits at age 62 and forfeited the equivalent of 12 months’ worth of benefits by the time you reached full retirement age, your benefit would be recalculated as if you had claimed it at 63 instead of 62. You would receive this higher benefit for the rest of your life, so you could end up receiving substantially more than the amount that was withheld. There is no adjustment for lost spousal benefits or for lost survivor benefits that are based on having a dependent child.

1) InvestmentNews, November 26, 2019

This information is not intended as tax, legal, investment, or retirement advice or recommendations, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek guidance from an independent tax or legal professional. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Broadridge Advisor Solutions. © 2021 Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc.