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Extra Earnings Don't Always Translate to Extra Benefits Q: I know my Social Security benefits will be based on my last five years of earnings before I retire. But here is the problem. I am 60 years old and have just been laid off by my employer. I have few if any prospects of getting another job. I plan …Read more. The So-Called 'New' Social Security Rules Are Actually the Old Rules There is just so darn much misinformation out there about new Social Security rules. These rules have to do with the eventual elimination of the maximizing strategies known as "file and restrict" and "file and suspend." Every single day, I get …Read more. How to Deal With the Social Security Earnings Penalties I've gotten more than a few emails recently from Social Security beneficiaries who are under age 66 and still working and who are trapped in the web of Social Security's convoluted earnings penalty rules and the way they are administered. Those …Read more. Long Gone Husband May Mean Extra Social Security to Some I gave a couple women very nice Christmas presents over the recent holiday season. And I'm not talking about the lingerie I got my wife or the coffee maker I got my daughter. I'm talking about the gift of extra Social Security benefits I got for two …Read more.
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Going Back to Work can Boost Social Security Payments


Q: I started my Social Security when I was 62. I'm now 64 and have been offered a job that I am seriously considering. It would pay me quite a bit of money — way more than the Social Security earnings limit of $14,000. Can I stop my Social Security benefits? If I do, when I restart them, will I get credit for my additional earnings?

A: Yes, you can stop and restart your Social Security benefits at anytime. And when you restart your benefits, there are two potential increases you would be due.


As you alluded to, your benefit will be increased because of additional earnings added to your Social Security record. This is an automatic benefit recalculation the Social Security Administration does every year on the accounts of those beneficiaries who are still working.

When you have additional earnings, and assuming they are higher than the lowest year that was used in your current Social Security computation, they replace that low year with the new higher year. This would boost your overall average income and, in turn, increase your Social Security benefit. Usually, these additional earnings recalculations add about $20 or $30 per month to your Social Security check.


Once you restart your Social Security, your benefits will be refigured to remove some of the early retirement reduction that was factored into your original computation.

When you first took your Social Security at 62, those benefits came with somewhere between a 20 and 25 percent reduction. If you suspend your Social Security payments, and then restart them later on, your benefit amount will be readjusted to give you credit for those months when you didn't collect Social Security benefits.

In other words, if you return to work and are not collecting an early retirement Social Security check, why should you continue to be penalized with a full early retirement reduction? The reduction factor is about one-half of 1 percent per month.

So, for example, if you go 20 months without a Social Security check, your benefits should be about 10 percent higher once they are restarted.

One other reminder: If you keep working until age 66 or beyond, you should make sure you restart your Social Security at age 66. That's because at that age, you are due full Social Security benefits no matter how much money you are making.

Q: In a prior column, you wrote that a woman could not get any of her deceased husband's Social Security until she is 60 years old. But is there a difference if the deceased was disabled? My sister's husband recently died. He was getting Social Security disability benefits. My sister is 52. Is she due any of her husband's Social Security now?

A: The same rules I discussed in the prior column apply to your sister. So, she must be at least 60 years old to qualify for Social Security widow's benefits. There are no special provisions because her husband was disabled.

If your sister is disabled, then she could be eligible for disabled widow's benefits. They are payable as early as age 50.

And you didn't mention any children. A woman who is caring for her deceased husband's minor children can qualify for Social Security widow's benefits at any age.

Q: My husband is terminally ill. We have one son — age 10. Our son has cerebral palsy. When my husband dies, will my son get Social Security disability benefits?

A: Your son will get a "surviving child" benefit on your husband's Social Security record. He gets that benefit just because he is a minor child, not because he is disabled.

However, when he turns 18, his disability will become a factor. Normally, children's benefits stop at age 18. But they can continue indefinitely for a child who is disabled.

And by the way, you would be due widow's benefits as the mother of a minor child receiving Social Security survivor's benefits.

To find out more about Tom Margenau and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



27 Comments | Post Comment
I went to my local SS office twice last year and received a different answer each time. My question is in regard to collecting SS from my deceased ex-husband. We were married for 18 years and I just turned 64 yrs. old. At the time of his death he was on SS Disability. He was in Viet Nam and had a medical disablility from the military. It is my understanding that after age 60, that I am entitled to SS under his benefits. However, when I went to apply I was told that I wasn't technically retired because I was self employed. I make very little income from that business, but I was told that I would have to sell the business before I would be eligilbe for benefits. The first time I went into the SS office I was told that my benefit would be reduced according to what I made that year for the business and that would be anything over $14,000. I don't make that much from my business. I have a small amount of income from my previous employer, which I took an early retirement from in 1997. I was also told two different amounts for his benefit as well. The first time they told me I could get the full amount with a reduction only because of my earnings and the second time it would be reduced because I wasn't age 66 yet and my earnings would reduce it further ... So, my question is...which is correct? Do I have to sell my business before I can be eligible for his SS benefit or can I take a reduced amount, if deed be? I don't know where to turn to get a correct answer..Please advise me what to do..Thank you
Comment: #1
Posted by: Robin Tapia
Sun Apr 18, 2010 10:10 AM
I am 61 years old and collecting a widows benefit. I was recently offered a job. the salary would exceed what I am able to earn while collecting. i would earn the $14,400. after 5 months of work. When I told a friend that was going to stop my SS he told me that I did not have to stop it completely. He said that all I had to do was call when what I earned had reached the $14,400. and advise that it be stopped.then I could restart it the following year, again until my earnings reached $14,400. This does not sound right to me...Help!
Comment: #2
Posted by: patricia newbeck
Mon Jun 7, 2010 7:11 AM
I am 61 years old and collecting a widows benefit. I was recently offered a job. the salary would exceed what I am able to earn while collecting. i would earn the $14,400. after 5 months of work. When I told a friend that was going to stop my SS he told me that I did not have to stop it completely. He said that all I had to do was call when what I earned had reached the $14,400. and advise that it be stopped.then I could restart it the following year, again until my earnings reached $14,400. This does not sound right to me...Help!
Comment: #3
Posted by: patricia newbeck
Mon Jun 7, 2010 7:11 AM
i have a major heart condition i was only out of work for 10 months however my condition keeps me from working f=ull time and ther are several factors that put stress on my heart but i went back to work without true knowledge of my condition and was recently turned down from soc ser law judge
Comment: #4
Posted by: william tveden
Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:54 PM
continue from comment my two previous jobs was a bill collector for 20 years and a courier for 7 years 55 year old if i lost my current job as a couslor for adults with disability who would hire me my doctor says stress is extremly bad with my condition my hear is oly working at 35% please advidse what i should do
Comment: #5
Posted by: william tveden
Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:58 PM
I am 62 and was recently laid off after 31 years of continuous emplyment. I am now collecting unemployment and actively seeking a job. Am I able to collect both unemplyment and social security and when I find a job and earn more than the 14.000 allowed, can I suspend social security and claim it at 66. WillI owe the money I collected on Social secrity back if I resume working?
Comment: #6
Posted by: kathy lavine
Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:26 AM
I am now 88 years old. When I was 62 I applied from early retirement benefits, but after several months I went back to work for the next 2-1/2 years, thereby fofitting my SS benefits it, which were resumed after that. On Nov. 6 2010 I received a letter from the SSA telling me that some of my earnings had not been figured into the payments I was receiving. by roughly $200 a month. I phoned the SSA and later filled out a form asking that I be given back pay for the twenty-two hears I had been underpaid by about $200 a month. Question--If I do not get a satisfactory response within a month or two, should I engage an an attorney to represent me or should I keep waiting for my case to be reviewed? As I see it, I am due back payments both based both on my earnings and the fact that I worked and did not receive benefits during the time I went back to work. .
Comment: #7
Posted by: Bernice Margulies
Thu Dec 23, 2010 10:03 AM
My uncle is 62 years old and is on SSI. He is looking to work part time if he can to add income to his household. How much income can he earn and it not affect his SSI check
Comment: #8
Posted by: Joyce Batise
Thu Jan 13, 2011 2:15 PM
My husband retired early at 55 and began early SS payments at the age of 62. He will be 66 this year and is considering returning to work. Is there a limit that he can earn after 66 yrs while still receiving the SS payments? If we stop the payments when he goes back to work, will we have to repay the earlier payments? Will there be a possibility that our SS payments will increase based on new salary or will they stay at the same early retirement level? Thank you for your response.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Suzan Pease
Fri Feb 11, 2011 7:54 PM
I would like to know if the 14,400 is based on a annual or monthly basis. Is a 62 yr old reciepent of benefits limited to making 1100.00 per month or can he make all of it say in the first 10 months then be penalized for any earnings in the last 2months.
Comment: #10
Posted by: Gary Grant
Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:16 PM
I started taking my retirement benefts at 63 and now our financal situation has improved- thru my husband. I want to suspend my benefits until later. I went to the lcal social security office and was told I cannot do this unless I withdraw and repay the money. I do not want that, I just want to suspend, which I believe I can do. Does anyone know where this provision is written inthe SS code so I can take it in writng to my office on the next visit?
Comment: #11
Posted by: sandra
Sun Aug 21, 2011 8:24 AM
My husband has been looking for work for over a year and a half. During that time he has been receiving unemployment insurance. He is still actively seeking work. Recently, he turned 62. He is however, still eligible for more months of unemployment while he seeks employment. My question is: Can he receive social security benefits and unemployment at the same time? is the social security payment considered income like a part time job and therefore he would report the social security amount as income to be taken off of his unemployment check. Or how does this work? Thanks
Comment: #12
Posted by: Pam Baus
Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:54 PM
I retired from job#1 when I was 55 yrs of age, the company down sized..I was receiving a monthy pension from the job (which included averaging income) I was told that part of the money came from my social security..until if reached 62 years old and then I began receiving my SS to this economy I went back to work partime at another job, and making $13.900.00 yearly on the job and they are taking out SS on me, I plan to continue working there until if I reach full retirement age in a few year. I am receiving my SS# benfits also, I want to know when I reached full retirement age will may SS check remain he same. or will it be more>
Jo L.
Fri, Feb. 3, 2012..
Comment: #13
Posted by: Jo L.
Fri Feb 3, 2012 10:32 AM
I retired from Job#1 when I ws 55 yrs of age, the company down sized..I began receiving my monthly pension from the job(which included averaging income)I was told that was part of the money came from social security...until I reached 62 yrs old and then I began receiving my SS benfits and a smaller amount from my pension from job#1,,,do to this economy I went back to work part time at job#2, and making about $13,000.00 yearly...the job is currently taking out ss each pay...I plan to continue working until I rach full retirement age in a few year....My question when i reach full retiremnt age..will my ss payments increase or not....I was told it will not because I began receiving some of it when I left job#1...

Comment: #14
Posted by: Jo L.
Thu Feb 9, 2012 6:44 AM
I reitred at 63 and started drawing SS. I have now gone back to work at 69 and have earned 3230 in 2011 and 2300 in 2012 on which I paid SS, etc. Will this affect my SS benefit and by approx how much?
Comment: #15
Posted by: Joe Bogstad
Tue Apr 3, 2012 8:12 AM
I continue working and started receiving my SS benefit at age 66, just over a year ago. Just realized this year that adding the SS benefits to our comibined income puts us in a higher tax bracket. Can I suspend receiving my SS benefits now? How my benefits will be calculated when I stop working and re-start the benefits?
Comment: #16
Posted by: Vera Seditsky
Sat Apr 7, 2012 8:35 AM
Could you help me? I have an unuusal question that I have not seen answered anywhere.

I am turning 66 years of age (born 1946) November 2, 2012; I lost two days a week of work and am now working only part-time, three days a week and will be unable to survive unless I add social security on my eligible date (full retirement age).

Unfortunately, I have no retirement savings, no pension, or any other source of income other than social security, and therefore planned to work until age 70 years, increasing considerably my monthly payment making it possible to live (in the right geographic area) on social security alone (which could be as high as $2,800 a month or more).

If I begin taking social security at my full retirement age of 66 years this November, and subsequently locate full-time employment again, can I stop my monthly social secuirty payments and benefit from the higher earnings (that will replace many low income years), plus the 8% per year increase I will receive every year until age 70 years (which will make it more likely that I could survive on social security alone -- my only hope).

Thank you for helping me. No one knows the answer to the question (issue) I have proposed.
Comment: #17
Posted by: Russell Higley
Sat Apr 28, 2012 11:47 PM
At age 62 a began receiving social security and worked a part-time job as well. I am still working and having a very hard time in my job that it is making think if I should quit because I no longer enjoy going to work because the people and the new bosses are really giving me a hard time. If I stop working does my social security check increase because I am still paying for social security benefits.
Comment: #18
Posted by: emily rosario
Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:30 PM
I am confused. I have been told one thing by the SSA but I read something different on their website. I am on disability for Soc. Sec. and am now 64. My question is: If I return to work now, will my Soc. Sec. benefit be reduced on the $1 for every $2 I make over the $14,000 limit, or do I lost my benefit completely? I would love to work at least part time, but many of the jobs would end up paying me about $20,000 a year, which is less than I am receiving on Soc. Sec. disability. Thank you for any clarification you may provide.
Comment: #19
Posted by: Tom Niekamp
Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:11 PM
i retired when i was 62. in the last i have been working and paying (i have taxes withheld) from my checks weekly. will my benefits go up on my ss cks
Comment: #20
Posted by: Bud Bradshaw
Thu Jan 3, 2013 10:13 AM
Mother is 88 and has been told she makes too much money to continue to collect soc. sec. is this true?
Comment: #21
Posted by: janlaughlin
Thu Jan 24, 2013 7:33 AM
I retired when I was 55 from teaching and started drawing ss when I was 62. I'm 69 now and have become disabled. My plans were to work part time and pay in ss to increase my benefits but can't now. My question is can I claim disability and draw a larger monthly ss check?
Comment #22
Posted by: Frankie Baldwin
February 10, 2014 12:15PM
Comment: #22
Posted by: Frankie D. Baldwin
Mon Feb 10, 2014 10:17 AM
I am 69 and still working and also drawing social Security. Do I still have to pay Tax on what I currently earn.
Comment: #23
Posted by: Jeanne Scott
Thu Mar 6, 2014 6:05 AM
I am a retired government working drawing a CS annuity beginning January 1, 2012. I took a job in May of 2012. I turned 66 in October of 2013. I quit my job February 28, 2014 and filed for SS benefits a few days earlier. I was asked if I wanted to back date my claim to my birth month. I said yes. All was okay. Then they deducted two months of Medicare payments for Medicare Part B insurance that they said I signed up for when I turned 65. I never signed up for it, did not want it, and did not need it because I have full medical coverage through my annuity. In addition, they reduced my SS payment because of my annuity when I had been told for years by OPM that because my service comp date is in August 1980, my payments would not be off-set. I know this is complicated but can you tell me if SS is correct or if OPM is correct about the offset and do you think I stand a chance of getting the two Medicare payments refunded to me. Now another wrinkle. I have decided to take another job. How will this affect my SS payments. I am currently 66 years old.
Comment: #24
Posted by: CS Richardson
Thu Jun 19, 2014 5:29 PM
I want to know the same as comment that number 18 asked.
Comment: #25
Posted by: Pamela Waters
Sun Aug 3, 2014 5:41 AM
My Dad recently passed on,my Mother will get some of his SS,I'm also on SS since '05,Shouldn't I also get a higher amount,like $800 more per month? Can I receive a friends SS back payments from July,'07 to the present while he is in a diabetic coma til he comes out of it or passes away? He is in a hospital in Michigan close to he Mother.
Comment: #26
Posted by: DMAyres
Fri Feb 13, 2015 8:35 PM
I turned 70 yrs. old in December 2015, I started drawing Social Security Benefits at the age of 63, I had to go back to work to supplement my income, my health has become an issue, if I leave my employment because of health reasons, can I file for unemployment in the state of South Carolina, and what has happened to all of the Social Security that I have paid in to the system for the past 4 years. Will I receive a refund?
Comment: #27
Posted by: Ann H. Hudson
Wed Jan 13, 2016 6:16 AM
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Tom Margenau
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