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. Diane o.

    Hi, I have been working since I retired at 66. I am now 74 yrs old and still working part-time and still contributing to social security. Why are my benefits not increasing?

  2. Karami

    May I translate it into Persian and publish this on my website:
    Thank you

  3. sina

  4. Rudy C.

    I got injured at work at the age of 37 and started receiving SSI Disability. When do I start receiving SSI retirement or do I ? Get to receive SSI retirement funds ? I really don’t understand how this works . I really hope my retirement is more then what I’m receiving now. How do you survive from making 50,000 a year working to $16,000 a yr. on Disability. Makes no sense. I’m struggling so bad .

    • Rudy C.

      I got injured at the age of 37. I am 50 yrs old now . When does SSI kick in for me ? I’m on SSI Disability. This is from my last post . I just wanted to add my age as of now .

  5. Genericcialisonline

    If a personals personal income tax rate stays the same a Traditional IRA and Roth IRA have exactly the same results so it comes down to betting on tax rates in retirement vs tax rates today. * If you believe your tax bracket will be lower in retirement then a Traditional IRA makes sense. * If you believe your tax bracket will be higher in retirement than a Roth IRA make sense. My wife and I hedge our bets and max out a 401k and a Roth IRA If you really want to avoid taxes max out a HSA account and use it as a retirement vehicle instead of a medical account.

  6. Homer M.

    I will be 60 in three years and will get my monthly military retirement pay. I won’t be retiring until 65. Will this affect my social security even though I will have to pay taxes on this money?

  7. JIM

    What is the max income for 2017 that social security is withheld

  8. JIM

    What was the max income for 2017 that social security is paid

  9. MARTA M.


  10. S.Miller

    What happens to my pension as a federal employee, if I decide to go out under disability retirement due some chronic health issues?

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