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Do I need to notify Social Security if I am receiving benefits and earn more than the annual earnings limit?

En español | Yes. If you exceed the limit, which is $18,960 in 2021, $1 of your benefits will be withheld for every $2 you make above the limit. You must promptly tell Social Security how much you expect to earn so that the correct amount can be withheld.

If you receive more benefits than you're entitled to, you'll have to pay them back. Also, you may have to pay a penalty if you didn't promptly notify Social Security.

The $18,960 cap is in effect when you work and receive benefits in a year before the one in which you reach full retirement age, or FRA, which is 66 years and 2 months for people born in 1955. If you will reach FRA in 2021, the limit is higher ($50,250) and the withholding lower ($1 in benefits for every $3 in earnings above the cap).

When you hit full retirement age, the earnings cap goes away. Past that date, there is no benefit withholding no matter how much you make from work.

Keep in mind

  • The earnings limit covers only income from work, including self-employment. Other forms of income, such as investment gains, IRA distributions or unemployment benefits, do not count toward the cap.

Updated December 28, 2020

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