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. Russell A.

    Ticket. To. Work.

  2. Shirley A.

    We have a question ? If you start drawing your social security before the full age of 67 and you can make up to $ 17,040.00 without being penalized does that include the amount you may be drawing in a separate retirement pension at the place you retired from? Or does the 17,040 that you are allowed to make on the second job does the $ 17, 040.00 include what you are making already from your retirement check.? I hope you understand what I am trying to ask. I hope I said it sinyiu will understand what I mean. Thank you ..

  3. Robert H.

    I will be 62 on May 13, 2018 and have applied for Retirement Benefits. If I stop working at the end of May will my earning of approx. 22,000 from January through May reduce my SS benefits.
    Does the 17,040 limit only apply to earnings after I qualify for SS.

  4. David P.

    For those of you are looking for a good forum to discuss social security check out

  5. Marie

    Where is my check?

  6. ruben j.

    i am not receiving disability benefit from social security until now why’

  7. Thomas R.

    HOW CAN I GET a copy of my 2018 awards letter from social security and a copy of my wife’s as well her information is Trudy Rivet Rafferty, *** – ** – ***. Born 10/16/1950 in New Orleans?

  8. Kyme M.

    Can you. Still get retirement after going back to work for retirement credited and has already worked received ssi and filed you’re wage and employermeant then started working again

  9. Ulysses W.

    Thank you, this is good important information.

  10. Lawrence C.

    I work full time. I began collecting SS benifits at age 66. Is my allowance change every year. If so what month can I expect the change to happen.

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