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If I file for Social Security at 62 and continue to work, will my earnings affect family benefits for my spouse and children?

Yes, if your income exceeds the Social Security earnings limit. In that case, Social Security will reduce not just your monthly payment but also any benefits paid to your spouse or children on your earnings record (sometimes called “auxiliary” or “dependent” benefits).

The difference could be considerable if you earn well above the limit, which in 2019 is $17,640. (The cap is adjusted annually to reflect wage trends.) For every $2 you earn over the limit, Social Security deducts $1 from your total family benefit. In determining auxiliary benefits, Social Security prorates that reduction across your “family maximum.” That’s the most your family can receive based on your work record. The family maximum, calculated by Social Security, falls between 150 percent and 188 percent of your full retirement benefit.  

Keep in mind

  • The income-related deduction from benefits, and the accompanying impact on spouses and children, is lower in the calendar year in which you reach full retirement age and disappears entirely in the month you hit that age.

Published October 10, 2018

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