Yes. You don't have to hand in your notice when you start getting retirement benefits.
But continuing to draw income from work might reduce the amount of your benefit if you claim Social Security before you reach full retirement age (FRA), the age when you qualify to collect 100 percent of the maximum benefit allowed from your earnings history.
Until FRA — currently 66 and 2 months and gradually rising to 67 — Social Security doesn’t consider you fully “retired” if you make more than a certain amount from work, and it will deduct a portion of your benefits if your earnings exceed that limit.
The earnings caps are adjusted annually for national wage trends, and they differ in the years before and during you will reach FRA.
If you are receiving benefits and working in 2021 but not due to hit FRA until a later year, the earnings limit is $18,960. You lose $1 in benefits for every $2 earned over the cap. So, if you have a part-time job that pays $25,000 a year — $6,040 over the limit — Social Security will deduct $3,020 in benefits.
Suppose you will reach full retirement age in 2021. In that case, the earnings limit is $50,250, with $1 in benefits withheld for every $3 earned over the limit. That applies until the date you hit FRA: past that, there is no benefit reduction, no matter much you earn. In fact, Social Security increases your monthly benefit at that point so that over time you recoup benefits you lost to the prior withholding.
If you receive wages, earnings-limit calculations are based on your gross pay; if you’re self-employed, Social Security counts your net income only. The Social Security pamphlet “How Work Affects Your Benefits” and its Retirement Earnings Test Calculator can provide more details.
Keep in mind
- The earnings cap applies only to income from work. It does not count investments, pensions, annuities or capital gains.
- If your Social Security payments are reduced because you earned income above the limit, spouses and children receiving benefits on your work record will have their payments reduced as well.
- The earnings cap and rules also apply to the work income of people receiving spousal, children's and survivor benefits.
Updated June 8, 2021
Find the answers to the most common Social Security questions such as when to claim, how to maximize your retirement benefits and more.