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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About the Author

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications


  1. arnold

    i’ve been trying to avail my ssi because i just lose my work but to no avail..i cant pay my rent & cant buy my broke & soon to live in not good in using internet,can you please help me..,i’ve been a tax payer for more than decade & im a father of 2 kids.

  2. Donald L.

    How do I get an award letter for each year that I pay medicare

  3. Carlton R.

    If it is true that the treasury owes the social security trust fund over two trillion dollars, how can it be said that social security is going broke?

  4. Julie

    If I get laid off from my job within the year I become full retirement age to collect the maximum can I take unemployment payments until I reach the correct age

    • Ray F.

      Hi Julie. Social Security does not count unemployment benefits as earnings. They do not affect retirement benefits. However, income from Social Security may reduce your unemployment compensation. Contact your state unemployment office for information on how your state applies the reduction. We hope this information helps!

  5. Gabriel P.

    Hi, I would like to know if I am eligible for this “special payment “. Gabriel P. Wachs *** – ** – ***. Please let me know.

  6. John W.

    Why do I have to pay taxes on my social security if I make over A CERTAIN AMOUNT in retirement. I have been at full retirement are for at least 2 years? I was born 1 Sep 1950.

    • Ray F.

      Hello John, some people have to pay federal income taxes on their Social Security benefits. This usually happens only if you have other substantial income (such as wages, self-employment, interest, dividends and other taxable income that must be reported on your tax return) in addition to your benefits.
      Also, everyone working in covered employment or self-employment regardless of age or eligibility for benefits must pay Social Security taxes. For further income tax questions, you will need to contact the IRS. Their toll-free number is 1-800-829-1040. Thanks!

  7. Bradley J.

    As well as set a successful career to end my work with a nice unstressed sec

    • Sina

      I am sure you can do it. please visit this website to get more info:

  8. Bradley J.

    I just hope to carry a long a beneficial sec to watch my grandkids and enjoy retirement

  9. Gloria M.

    (it just hard to see(only one eye) (right eye blind spot) not good for me and its hard read it fast for me(I wish my eye go back to normal(it will never happened(ever since (heart attack(since 2000)at well Fargo Bank)(i wish never drink red bull(2x) ) and working at (wal-mart) morning) and trying to do the best mom and but and strong for my kids sake(everything so happy those day now its gone for good)(but father dies(2016)everything change)( i have to type close to the computer to see the letter and words I type)(what a life it is) for me now)(57)(divorce(kids (move on)(mom and me and my brother(divorce)(he works full time)visit his kids and grandkids(Modesto)(what a life)(everything change)(heart attack-blood pressure and cholesterol)(6pills)(Highland Clinic in Oakland, CA) (Dr Diaz)

  10. Robert D.

    W e p?

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