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How Does the Annual Earnings Limit Affect My Payment?

Rules are different the first year that you claim benefits

Q. I'm 62 and planning to take my Social Security starting Nov. 1. But this year I've already earned more than $14,160, the yearly earnings limit for retirees who are between 62 and full retirement age. How will this affect my benefits?

A. There's good news for you: Money you made prior to Nov. 1 won't count. In the year that you begin taking benefits, all that Social Security considers is any monthly earnings you have after you begin benefits. The monthly earnings limit is $1,180.

See also: Frequently asked questions about the earnings limit.

So, if you earn less than $1,180 in November or December, you'll get your full monthly benefit. If you earn more than $1,180 in November, you won't receive a monthly benefit for that month. The same applies for December.

For people who are self-employed, the rules are different and will be covered in a future column.

Starting in 2012, the annual limit of $14,160 will apply to any earnings that you have. To learn how this limit works, see my previous column "Can I Beat the Social Security Earnings Test?"

For more information on the issue of working, see the Social Security publication "How Work Affects Your Benefits."

You may also like: Protect Social Security. >>

Stan Hinden, a former columnist for the Washington Post, wrote How to Retire Happy: The 12 Most Important Decisions You Must Make Before You Retire. Have a question for the Social Security Mailbox? Check out the archive. If you don't find your answer there, send a query.

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