Q: I plan to retire in September at age 63. If I have earned over $17,000 so far this year, can I still start Social Security when I retire?
A: Yes, a person can receive Social Security when they retire even if having high earnings up to retirement.
This question is about the annual earnings test, also known as the retirement test.
Gross wages or net self-employment above earnings limits in a year can reduce Social Security payable during the year. The amounts vary based on your age compared to full retirement age (FRA), which is age 66 for birth years 1943 – 1954. Earnings limits end with the month you reach FRA. For a person younger than FRA all year, the 2015 earnings limit before benefit reduction is $15,720.
People retire all during the year and many have earned over annual earnings limits before then. For them, a one-time special earnings limit rule lets Social Security be paid for months of actual retirement even if calendar year earnings are high.
Earnings test information for 2016 should be available during October.
Including earnings test amounts, lots of SSA retirement planning information is on the Social Security website, www.socialsecurity.gov, in the Retirement Benefits section and especially in the Retirement Planner area at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/.
Different calculators are in the Retirement Planner section for your use. One of these is an “earnings test calculator” to help you see how your earnings may affect your benefit payments if you are currently working and are eligible for retirement or survivors benefits this year.