Whenever possible, it’s always best to wait until you reach full retirement age before collecting Social Security retirement benefits because your monthly payment will be higher than if you start collecting before full retirement age. Just because you start collecting benefits doesn’t mean you have to stop working full-time, however.
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As the Social Security Administration notes on its website, when you reach your full retirement age you can work and earn as much as you want and still get your full Social Security benefit payment. But if you’re younger than full retirement age — and your earnings exceed certain dollar amounts — some of your benefit payments during the year will be withheld.
The full retirement age is 66 if you were born from 1943 to 1954. That increases gradually if you were born from 1955 to 1960, until the full retirement age reaches 67 years old. For anyone born 1960 or later, full retirement benefits are payable at age 67. You can find your full retirement age by birth year in the SSA’s full retirement age chart. You can start collecting retirement benefits as early as age 62 and as late as age 70. It’s usually best to wait as long as you can.
If you are younger than full retirement age and earn more than the annual income limit, the amount deducted from your benefit depends on your age. For example, if you are under full retirement age for the entire year, SSA deducts $1 from your benefit payments for every $2 you earn above the annual limit. For 2022, that limit is $19,560.
In the year you reach full retirement age, the SSA deducts $1 in benefits for every $3 you earn above a different limit. In this case, the 2022 limit on your earnings is $51,960. The SSA only counts your earnings up to the month before you reach your full retirement age — not your earnings for the entire year.
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Even if you start collecting benefits before you turn 66, you don’t necessarily have to limit your work income. If the SSA withholds some of your benefits because you continue to work, the agency will pay you a higher monthly benefit when you do reach your full retirement age.
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