Working While Retired

September 21, 2017 • By

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Last Updated: October 5, 2021

two women smiling and looking at flowersRetirement life is different for everyone. Social Security is here to secure today and tomorrow, whether you sail into the sunset or decide to continue working. Some of our rules allow you to receive Social Security retirement or survivor benefits and work at the same time, as long as you don’t make more than Social Security’s annual earnings limit. For 2021, that limit is $18,960.

If you’re younger than full retirement age and make more than the yearly earnings limit, we’ll reduce your Social Security benefits. But starting with the month you reach full retirement age, we will not reduce your benefits, no matter how much you earn. Our Retirement Portal explains the requirement and deductions, and what happens after you reach full retirement age.

Two of our online tools can help you find the information you need to make the right decision for you. You can find your full retirement age based on your date of birth by using our Retirement Age Calculator. Our Retirement Earnings Test Calculator can help you find out how much your benefits may be reduced if you are working and haven’t reached your full retirement age.

There are several things to consider if you plan to continue working after you retire. Our website gives you detailed information for the type of employment that you have. It also explains what types of pensions, annuities, and income do not count toward your earnings limits.

Additional earnings after you start collecting benefits might increase your monthly benefit. If there’s an increase, we’ll send you a letter telling you of your new benefit amount. If you think your earnings will be different than what you originally told us, let us know right away. For more information, read our publication, How Work Affects Your Benefits, or visit our website. No matter what you decide to do with your retirement life, you can count on Social Security.

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About the Author

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications


  1. Jtg

    Has the 2018 cola for SS been set yet.?

    • AKA

      It will be announced soon. It will probably be around 2.3%.

      • Ray F.

        Generally, the Cost-of-Living Adjustment or COLA, which is announced each year during the month of October.

  2. Maria R.

    I wish I could have waited as I planned to do until I reached 66, but life is never fair, as I was forced by job layoffs to retire 18 months ahead of time.
    Now that I am past the age of full retirement, I could earn money if I work without having to worry about cuts in my Social Security benefits as long as I have taxes taken out. I have taxes taken out of everything I get because even Social Security is taxable if you get more than $25,000 yearly. I just budget myself to live on a lower income.

  3. david r.

    it doesn’t seem fair to me that some people on SSI can get a lot more per month than a Person like myself, who has worked since 1969 straight with never collecting any hand outs like welfare or unemployment. I have a friend who also was a co worker and he is only 35. He does indeed have major medical problems now. He receives $3200 per month with no children and his wife has a good job. If I had paid in the max over my lifetime, at age 66, I could only receive $2540 which is the max. Something is definitely wrong in Washington! The same also applies to people who come to our fine country to live, and they are paid more than us average workers!

    • AKA

      If you are 65 you can receive SSI also if your income is no more than $20 higher than the SSI full amount. Sounds fair to me. And for those who come to this country, generally they can’t get anything for at least 5 years. Their sponsors have to support them. Maybe you should have had a more substantial job and paid into the max. You didn’t so you only get paid the amount you deserve based upon your earnings. Sounds fair to me.

    • tony

      I get over $50K/year in free Social Security Disability and VA Disability money. It was very easy for me to get free tax free disability money for a mental disorder. You see a psychiatrist and before you even walk out of the office, you will have several severe mental disorders diagnosis and several prescriptions to go with each diagnosis. The psychiatrist gets paid by the pharmaceutical companies to write prescriptions and they need to diagnose you with a mental disorder in order to prescribe it. You might not get service-connect by a VA psychiatrist but they will diagnose you with diagnose you with a non-service connected mental disorder when you leave. The psychiatrists will always diagnose you with some kind of mental disorder to stay in business and keep you coming back.

      Look at all the new mental disorders they are coming up with no scientific medical understanding. PTSD was considered a anxiety disorder and now is a trauma disorder. The SSA recently added trauma disorder to the mental listing. The SSA also added Eating Disorder to the mental listing. An overweight person can now go to the psychiatrist and say they have an eating disorder and collect Social Security Disability.

      • tony

        I am waiting for gambling disorder to make it onto the SSA mental listing. Lol

        Gambling disorder has already made it onto the DSM-V as a compulsive disorder like OCD. I lost my house, car, and job due to the gambling addition. I can’t keep a job due to the gambling addition. Lol

      • tony

        I had a few private psychiatrist call me a fraud, but they don’t care as long as the private insurance or Medicare pays for it. I don’t even have to go “doctor shopping ” and find another psychiatrist. Many claimants go doctor shopping and don’t list the non-supportive doctors on the list of treating source for the SSA.

        They leave out non-supportive doctors which sometimes leaves big gaps in their treatment history. The SSA can’t prove that they were doctor shopping. Even if they weren’t doctor shopping, it is illegal to leave out the non-supportive doctors’ medical records.

    • Ray F.

      The monthly-maximum Federal benefit amounts for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in 2017 are: $735 for an eligible individual and $1,103 for an eligible couple.
      The maximum Social Security retirement benefit depends on the age you retire. For example, if you retire at full retirement age in 2017, your maximum benefit would be $2,687. However, if you retire at age 62 in 2017, your maximum benefit would be $2,153. If you retire at age 70 in 2017, your maximum benefit would be $3,538. Please visit our 2017 Fact Sheet for more important information. Thanks!

  4. Lucinda A.

    I’m 63 years old 2017.. Retired from my job.. what’s my status

    • AKA

      You could receive retirement if you have 40 quarters of coverage and you bother to file for benefits.

    • Ray F.

      Hi, Lucinda. The earliest age to apply and receive Social Security Retirement Benefits is 62, but if you decide to get benefits before your full retirement age, your benefits will be reduced. Also, you can create a My Social Security account to review your earnings record and get an estimate of your future benefits. We hope this information helps.

  5. Nelson R.

    I retired at 62 because of my back and leg pain. Just had spine surgery in July and I am almost completely out of pain. I plan to take it fairly easy for a while as the doctor told me. Then I may return to one of my hobbies so I can keep active. Thanks for all the updates so if I am ever able to return to a small paying job l can do so. I’m glad you don’t forget about the little guy.

  6. david r.

  7. Wilfredo A.

    I am 65 years old and I haven’t draw my social security. If I reach the age of 66 years old will my benefits be the same. I am also retired from the Military. Please send me an email of my questions

    • Wilfredo A.

      When can I received an email

      • Michael

        My understanding is that your SS benefits will increase by about 8% each year you wait to receive SS benefits until you reach 70.

        • Ray F.

          Please visit our Retirement Planner: Delayed Retirement Credits web page for more information.

      • Ray F.

        Unfortunately, we do not have access to personal information, therefore, we do not do direct messaging in this venue. Remember that many of our services are conveniently available anytime at our website. We encourage individuals to create a personal my Social Security account to learn more about their Social Security benefits. Thanks!

    • AKA

      You’ll receive more each month if you wait until age 66 and you’ll receive 12 fewer payments.

    • Ray F.

      Hi, Wilfredo. You can get both Social Security retirement benefits and military retirement. Generally, we do not reduce your Social Security benefits because of your military benefits. For Social Security retirement benefits, we use the individual’s highest 35 years of earnings to compute monthly benefit amount. However, if you decide to get benefits before your full retirement age, they will be reduced. In the other hand, starting to receive benefits at or after your full retirement age may result in larger benefits. In your case you may need to use our Early or Late Retirement Calculator. Our website provides a Retirement Estimator and various benefit calculators. Which calculator you choose depends on what you want do. Happy planning!

      • carols


        Our monthly earnings for 35 years, upon which our SS retirement is based, are adjusted for wage growth (indexed) before they are entered into our retirement calculation. Why is it at age 50 our reported earnings stop being increased by indexing? If we retire at 62 or 66 (Full Retirement Age-FRA), that would mean the last and highest paid 12-15 years of our 35 year wage history (almost half) will not be increased by indexing. What is the logical reason for this after age 50 discrimination?

  8. Doug I.

    If I wait until age 70 to start collecting benefits, but I continue working past that date, how can I determine if my benefits will rise with the additional contributions?

    • Maria R.

      They are (Social Security) sending out chart of potential benefits to everyone not claiming benefits until you claim benefits.

      • Ray F.

        We currently mail Social Security Statements (Statements) to workers age 60 and over who aren’t receiving Social Security benefits and do not yet have a my Social Security account. Click here for more information.

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your question, Doug. Each year, we review the records for all working Social Security recipients to see if additional earnings may increase monthly benefits. If your earnings for the prior year are higher than any of the years that was used to compute your retirement benefit, we will recalculate your benefit amount. If an increase is due, a new monthly benefit amount is established on your record automatically.

    • Belinda L.

      Remember that the first year you pull Social Security benefits that your earning cap is low – if you earn more than that the first year of SS benefits your SS will taxed quite considerably……after the first year all that changes. PLEASE review with Social Security before you plan on monies you may not receive the first year.

  9. Lesly F.


    • AKA

      Good for you!

  10. Yolanda M.

    I retired at 62. I turn 65 in June next year. Can I aply for Medicare at that time?

    • Lucinda A.

      What happens when you early retirement happens on your job..

    • Maria R.

      You should definitely apply for Medicare within that 6 month period when you turn 65, In your case (April-Aug of that year you turn 65). If you are already receiving Social Security, the Medicare cost will automatically come out of that benefit. If you waiting to apply for Social Security, you will be paying Medicare cost directly until you receive Social Security. Don’t delay applying for Medicare as the cost will go up because of the penalties they will incurr on your cost.

      • Ray F.

        To clarify. If you are not already getting retirement benefits, you should contact us about three months before your 65th birthday to sign up for Medicare. If you are already getting Social Security retirement benefits, you will be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B automatically. Thanks!

      • GVT W.

        If she is ALREADY collecting Social Security before age 65, her Medicare will come to her via mail automatically. No need to go apply!! Contact your local HIICAP Counselor…they will fill you in!

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your question, Yolanda. If you are already getting Social Security retirement benefits, you will be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B automatically. However, because you must pay a premium for Part B coverage, you have the option of turning it down. If you are not already getting retirement benefits, you should contact us about three months before your 65th birthday to sign up for Medicare. We hope this information helps!

    • Sondra E.

      Yes. You are eligible for Medicare if you are 65 years of age, worked 10 years or 40 quarters in the US, or are under age 65 and have a disability.

    • AKA

      Yes, and if you receive payments from SSA you are automatically enrolled.

    • Belinda L.

      You can apply for Medicare Part B 3 months prior to turning 65. IF you are not currently – or will not be – taking your Social Security, you will need to actively sign up for Medicare Part A & B….then you can either sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Supplement plan/RX plan. Medicare A & B cover about 80% so you will need either a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plan to help pay all or most of that 20%. Remember you will have copays for your medications as well.

    • Dee

      I am now 62. I Work full time. Was married over 30 plus years and recently divorced. Can I work full time and collect now under my x spouse (now 63) even if he is not taken SS until he reaches 66.

    • Paulette

      I turned 65 last year. I started to receive an abundance of communications in the mail. It was overwhelming. I met with my case worker at the Human Services office. She walked me through the entire process. There are also local agencies that can assist you.

    • Waleed W.

      Hello Yolanda ,
      You should apply for Medicare three(3) months prior to eligibility. In your case in March of next year since you turn 65 years YOUNG in June.
      I have been learning about this since my wife turns 65 in March and l turn 65 years YOUNG in August. Please stay healthy and active.
      God bless you,

    • David F.

      Sure – That is exactly the right time to apply for Medicare Part A. Other things might impact your decision to apply for Medicare Part B

    • Patricia R.

      I am working part time and started drawing my social security at 62. I am now 67 and working full time. Will that make a difference with my social security.

Comments are closed.