How Special Payments After You Retire Affect Your Social Security Benefit

March 22, 2018 • By

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Last Updated: March 22, 2018

woman on dock getting into kayak After you retire from your job or self-employment, you may get payments for work you did before you started receiving Social Security benefits. We call those “special payments.” Usually, special payments will not affect your Social Security benefit, if they are for work done before you retired. These payments will be counted in the last month you worked, unless the services can be shown to have been rendered in a prior period.

You should consider this when evaluating your work activity. If you are younger than full retirement age and make more than the yearly earnings limit, your earnings may reduce the amount of your monthly benefit. In 2018, the earnings limit is $17,040 if you are younger than full retirement age for the entire calendar year. If you reach full retirement age in 2018, the earnings limit is $45,360 for the months before you reach full retirement age. Starting with the month you reach full retirement age, you can receive your full monthly benefit no matter how much money you earn.

If you were self-employed, any net income you receive after the first year you retire counts as a special payment if you performed the services before you began receiving Social Security benefits. “Services” are any regular work or other significant activity you do for your business.

You can find more information and examples of special payments by reading Special Payments After Retirement. If you want to learn more about the earnings limit, please read How Work Affects Your Benefits.

Got another question about Social Security? On our website, you can find answers to over 200 of  your most frequently asked questions, and much more. Social Security’s online services are here to put control at your fingertips. See what else you can do online at

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Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications


  1. Cathey E.

    I am retired from PSRS/DESE in Missouri. I also worked and paid in SS all my life, I am still paying in to SS. My benefits were cut tremendously because I have another retirement. Many retired persons can draw both pension/SS. I could understand this if I had never paid into the SS System, but I have been paying in since 1968 and I get only a fraction of my benefits. Does not seem fair to have the initiative to work two jobs to try to have a better life for your family!!!

    • Vonda

      Hi Cathey and thank you for using our blog. Your question appears to indicate you receive or expect to receive a pension from work where you did not pay into Social Security. If you have 30 or more years of substantial Social Security earnings, we don’t reduce the standard 90 percent in our benefit formula. However, if you have 21-29 years of substantial Social Security earnings, we reduce the 90 percent factor to between 45 and 85 percent.

      Each year that you work and pay into the Social Security system may result in an adjustment to the formula depending on your total wages for the year. You’ll find a table that lists the amount of substantial earnings for each year at the bottom of the second page of the Windfall Elimination Provision fact sheet.

      For more information, check out our Windfall Elimination Provision web page. It includes a link to an online WEP calculator that can tell you how your Social Security benefits may be affected by your non-covered government pension. We hope this explanation helps.

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  7. samadi d.

    In some countries, after retirement, people turn to other activities.
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