Skip to content

If I stop working before I claim Social Security, will my monthly benefit amount be reduced?

En españolStrictly speaking, no. If, for example, you stop working at age 60 but wait until 67 to claim Social Security, your benefit will not be reduced because you did not work in those seven years. What you would lose is an opportunity to make your benefit bigger. 

Here’s why. Social Security calculates your retirement benefit by:

  1. Taking your highest 35 years of earnings from work in which you paid Social Security taxes
  2. Adjusting those income numbers for historical changes in U.S. wages
  3. Deriving a figure for your monthly average income
  4. Plugging that average into a formula that produces your benefit payment

If you stop work at 60, your top 35 years at that age are the same as your top 35 at 67. Your calculation, and the monthly average income on which your benefit is based, would be the same.

However, if you continue working in those years, and they turn out to be among your 35 highest-earning years, they will displace lower-income years in Social Security’s calculations, driving up your monthly average income and, therefore, your benefit. 

You can get personalized benefit estimates based on past and potential future earnings by using AARP’s Social Security Benefits Calculator or checking your online My Social Security account.

Save 25% when you join AARP and enroll in Automatic Renewal for the first year. Get instant access to discounts, programs, services, and the information you need to benefit every area of your life.

Keep in mind

  • If you claim benefits with fewer than 35 years of earnings, Social Security credits you with no income for each year up to 35. For example, if you worked for 30 years, there will be five zeroes in your benefit calculation. If you continue working, each year with earnings displaces a zero.
  • If you file before reaching full retirement age, currently 66 years and 2 months and gradually increasing to 67, your benefit is reduced whether you work or not.

Updated June 11, 2021

Join the Discussion

0 %{widget}% | Add Yours

You must be logged in to leave a comment.