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

En español | Not necessarily. Your benefit will not fall — you are due a certain benefit based on your work up until now. Quitting work before you're old enough to claim benefits won't reduce that amount when you do claim it.

But if you stop work now, your benefit won't get any larger. Social Security benefits are based on your highest 35 years of earnings. If you have fewer than 35 years of earnings, the years in which you don't work will be counted as zeroes in the calculations. If you continue working, you'll reduce those zero years and drive your benefit up.

If you already have 35 years of earnings, your benefit may or may not be affected by a decision to stop working now. Here's why: Any future work years that turn out to be among your top 35 earning years will displace lower-income years in Social Security's calculations, driving up your benefit. But if your future earnings don't crack your current top 35, Social Security will stick with its old calculations and your benefit will remain the same.

Published October 10, 2018

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