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Old 01-12-2018, 10:53 AM   #1
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Filing for Social Security benefits

Here's the situation. I am strongly considering leaving the workforce when my current contract ends at the end of June 2018. I plan to file and start collecting Social Security benefits starting 1 July 2018 expecting my first benefit check in August. (I know I need to file some time in April to ensure that 1 July date.) At that time I will be 65 so I will be about 11 months shy of my full retirement age.

Now the question. I am receiving conflicting/confusing information from my local Social Security office and the 800 number. As I understand the information on the Social Security Web site money earned in the first year of SS benefit collection prior to collection of the benefit is NOT considered in the "earnings test" to see how much your benefit will be reduced by income earned. Only income earned after inition of benefits is considered. to be clear, I plan to stop working altogether at the end of June 2018 and start Social Security benefit collection in July 2018. Yesterday I spent a good amount of time waiting to talk to a SS representative in our local SS office. He stated that earnings are considered from 1 January thereby I would not receive any benefit check until six months after 1 July when the money I earned in the first part of the year will offset my benefit for the rest of the year. This is in total contradiction to what I read on the SS Web site. A short while ago I finally got through to a SS rep through the 800 number and she was very difficult to understand so I just gave up asking her questions.

It doesn't make sense that anyone filing for Social Security workers benefits any time after January first will pay a penalty for money earned prior to collecting that first year.

I hope that someone who has started collecting SS benefits short of their full retirement age and started it all later in the year can relate their experience.
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Old 01-12-2018, 11:05 AM   #2
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when I retired I worked to the end of June, was 62 the end of March. Started the first of July but did not get a check until September as I remember.Previous earning did not enter the picture until tax time the following year. When I filed with SS i made an appointment and talked directly to an agent in his/she office, I would suggest you do the same-get an appointment, do not try to get info at the window.
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Old 01-12-2018, 11:07 AM   #3
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I can’t speak to the official rules. I retired July 1, 2015. Turned 62 Oct that year. Filed and started getting my benefit checks immediately. Did not have to wait until following year. Earnings were about $60K in first half of the year.
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Old 01-12-2018, 11:09 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldSarge98 View Post
Here's the situation. I am strongly considering leaving the workforce when my current contract ends at the end of June 2018. I plan to file and start collecting Social Security benefits starting 1 July 2018 expecting my first benefit check in August. (I know I need to file some time in April to ensure that 1 July date.) At that time I will be 65 so I will be about 11 months shy of my full retirement age.

Now the question. I am receiving conflicting/confusing information from my local Social Security office and the 800 number. As I understand the information on the Social Security Web site money earned in the first year of SS benefit collection prior to collection of the benefit is NOT considered in the "earnings test" to see how much your benefit will be reduced by income earned. Only income earned after inition of benefits is considered. to be clear, I plan to stop working altogether at the end of June 2018 and start Social Security benefit collection in July 2018. Yesterday I spent a good amount of time waiting to talk to a SS representative in our local SS office. He stated that earnings are considered from 1 January thereby I would not receive any benefit check until six months after 1 July when the money I earned in the first part of the year will offset my benefit for the rest of the year. This is in total contradiction to what I read on the SS Web site. A short while ago I finally got through to a SS rep through the 800 number and she was very difficult to understand so I just gave up asking her questions.

It doesn't make sense that anyone filing for Social Security workers benefits any time after January first will pay a penalty for money earned prior to collecting that first year.

I hope that someone who has started collecting SS benefits short of their full retirement age and started it all later in the year can relate their experience.
Sarge...I am facing that very same question myself as I'll be retiring by the end of this year (before 12/31/2018). I also have not been able to get a solid "verifiably accurate" answer. I agree with what I've seen in your OP as most folks would be penalized when retiring later in their retirement year for "earning" too much money. Personally, I have to agree that it "should" be for monies "earned AFTER you start collecting your Social Security Benefits"....but hey...that's just me!

Don't have the answer either just wanted you to know that you're NOT the only one dealing with this stuff...
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Old 01-12-2018, 11:22 AM   #5
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I did not have any earnings when I started taking mine at 66 so can't comment from experience. I do think it is only earnings after you start drawing...but need to confirm that.

My situation was a spouse that wanted to start collecting under their benefit and later switch to spousal benefit under my earnings history.
Question was what were the payments / penalties for starting early and switching later?
Several emails & phone calls got some very generalized book answers but didn't address the questions I posed.

I then made an appt & had SS agents sit in their office across the desk from me and give me incorrect info. The agent could tell from my reaction I had a problem / didn't agree and questioned me more... I explained that wasn't how I thought it worked and she took my info & worksheets to her supervisor who confirmed my understanding.
If anyone is considering this move I'd suggest to be sure to get the full story and understand how the calculations & penalties are applied. It can be beneficial and worth considering.
It's complicated and if anyone gives you a short / simple answer it is probably wrong!

I'd suggest printing the info from the website - highlighting the pertinent sections and sit one-on-one w an agent to get to the right answer.
I found emails & phone call useless.
In the end - If they give you bad info it is your problem NOT theirs... isn't Gov't great???
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Old 01-12-2018, 11:32 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mricet1005 View Post
I can’t speak to the official rules. I retired July 1, 2015. Turned 62 Oct that year. Filed and started getting my benefit checks immediately. Did not have to wait until following year. Earnings were about $60K in first half of the year.
This sounds exactly as I had expected it to be.

Also, extracted from page 5 of the 2018 Social Security pamphlet "How Work Affects Your Benefits":
"For example, John Smith retires at age 62 on October 30, 2018. He will earn $45,000 through October. He takes a part-time job beginning in November earning $500 per month. Although his earnings for the year substantially exceed the 2018 annual limit ($17,040), he will receive a Social Security payment for November and December. This is because his earnings in those months are $1,420 or less, the monthly limit for people younger than full retirement age. If Mr. Smith earns more than $1,420 in either November or December, he won’t receive a benefit for that month. Beginning in 2019, only the annual limit will apply to him."

To me, it's clear that the earnings test in the first year only considers earnings gained AFTER the benefit begins.

Wundertaker and all, thanks for letting me know I'm not making bad assumptions.

RichR, I know about the earnings prior to benefit and how it affects taxes for that year, I have the worksheet and can see how the earnings affect the amount of the SS benefit can be taxed. That's squirrely too but not as concerning to me as my initial question. Thanks for the heads up though.
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Old 01-12-2018, 12:22 PM   #7
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Sarge...in the end it'll all work out...If our paths cross after I retire, I'll be happy to buy you a Brew and we can sit down and complain about "something"!

Happy and Safe Travels...
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Old 01-12-2018, 12:28 PM   #8
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After you receive your first benefit if you make over the aloted amount in any month the rest of the year they will hold back funds. So as long as you only make $1410 or less in a month there is not loss of benefits, if you make 3000 this month they are gonna take half of the amount over, it is per month, remember that. Stay 1410 or less the rest of the year and you will be good to go.
PS: makes no difference how much you made prior to your first benefit check.
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Old 01-12-2018, 12:54 PM   #9
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. . . makes no difference how much you made prior to your first benefit check.
Exactly what I am trying to confirm with Social Security aficionados but they are having a hard time understating the system they are employed to provide answers for.
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Old 01-12-2018, 12:59 PM   #10
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. . . If our paths cross after I retire, I'll be happy to buy you a Brew and we can sit down and complain about "something"!
Keep your eyes peeled, we plan on traipsing across the mitt in our travels if only to visit the "Island" but I also see many excellent BoondockersWelcome sites all around the state.
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Old 01-12-2018, 01:02 PM   #11
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https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/rule.html
Some people who retire in mid-year have already earned more than their yearly earnings limit. That is why we have a special rule that applies to earnings for one year, usually the first year of retirement.

The special rule lets us pay a full Social Security check for any whole month we consider you retired, regardless of your yearly earnings. If you will

Be under full retirement age for all of 2017, you are considered retired in any month that your earnings are $1,410 or less and you did not perform substantial services in self employment.

So lets say you retire in July and in sept and oct you earn under the 1410 but Nov you earn OVER, you will be penalized for anything over the 1410 for Nov. Dec you go back to 1410 or less and all is good. its ONLY the months you earn over the limit they penalize
Hope that helps
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