Can You Still Work While Receiving Social Security?

Written By Mary Beth Eastman
Last updated August 2, 2019

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August 2, 2019

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Most people start receiving Social Security benefits when they retire between the ages of 62 and 67. Retiring, however, doesn’t mean that you stop working.

Your idea of retirement may include working a part-time job that keeps you busy and earns a little income, or it may involve going to your former position for a few hours a week to make sure the company runs smoothly.

These situations raise an important question. Can you still work while receiving Social Security benefits?

The short answer is, “Yes, you can.” You should look at the details, though, to help you understand how earning a paycheck may affect your benefits.

Each year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) sets an annual earnings cap for people receiving benefits. If you have reached full retirement age, then you can earn $46,920 in 2019 before you reach the cap. If you are under the age of full retirement, you have a cap of $17,640 in 2019.

Keep in mind that only income counts toward the cap. The cap does not include money from investments and other sources.

That’s why it’s a good idea to keep (or start) investing as you prepare for retirement. It’s simple to set up an online investing account with one of the top companies and start saving extra cash so your investments can grow.

SSA won’t prevent you from earning more than the annual cap. You can make as much money as possible. Once you exceed the cap, though, you start to lose some of your Social Security benefits.

If you have passed the age of full retirement, then you will lose $1 in SSA benefits for every $3 that you earn over the annual cap. For example, if you get paid $50,000 in 2019, you can expect to lose about $1,026 in benefits (50,000 – 46,920 = 3,080 / 3 = 1,.36.66).

If you have not passed the age of full retirement, then you lose $1 in SSA benefits for every $2 that you earn over your annual cap.

These numbers only apply to 2019. Over the next several years, the Social Security Administration could change the retirement age or adjust the annual cap for retirees.

Make sure you get the latest information from the SSA so you can determine whether working during retirement will affect your Social Security benefits.

About the Author

Mary Beth Eastman

Mary Beth Eastman serves as the content manager for Simple. Thrifty. Living, where she is dedicated to helping readers use money and credit wisely. Mary Beth believes that access to the right financial information paired with a growth mindset are essential tools for getting out of debt and building wealth. Mary Beth has a degree in Journalism from Bowling Green State University and has focused her 20-year journalism career on putting readers front and center, carefully considering their concerns and presenting information that will help them in their everyday lives. She has won numerous statewide journalism awards. Her writing on personal finance as been featured on numerous websites in addition to Simple. Thrifty. Living, including Huffington Post and Lexington Law blog. Mary Beth resides in Pittsburgh, Pa., with her family and two rescue dogs.

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