Working While Receiving Benefits
You may work after you start receiving benefits, which could mean a higher benefit for you in the future. We may withhold some of your benefits if you earn more than the yearly earnings limit. Sometimes people who retire in mid-year already have earned more than the annual earnings limit. However:
- We have a special rule that applies to earnings for one year, usually the first year you begin receiving benefits. This means we cannot withhold benefits for any month we consider you retired, regardless of your yearly earnings.
- After you reach full retirement age, we will recalculate your benefit amount to take into account any months you did not receive benefits because your earnings were too high.
Number Of Credits Needed For Disability Benefits
To be eligible for disability benefits, you must meet a recent work test and a duration work test.
The number of credits necessary to meet the recent work test depends on your age. The rules are as follows:
- Before age 24 – You may qualify if you have 6 credits earned in the 3-year period ending when your disability starts.
- Age 24 to 31 In general, you may qualify if you have credit for working half the time between age 21 and the time your disability began. As a general example, if you develop a disability at age 27, you would need 3 years of work out of the past 6 years .
- Age 31 or older – In general, you must have at least 20 credits in the 10-year period immediately before your disability began.
The following table shows how many years of work credits you need to meet the duration of work test based on your age when your disability began. For the duration of work test, your work does not have to fall within a certain period. The table only provides an estimate of how many work credits you need. It does not cover all situations. If you are statutorily blind, you must only meet the duration of work test. When statutory blindness is involved, there is not a recent work test requirement.
NOTE: This table is an estimate only and does not cover all situations
|If you develop a disability…||Then you generally need:|
Examples Of Deemed Filing Rules
Example 1: Maria turns age 62 after January 1, 2016. Her husband, Joe, is 65. They have each worked enough years to earn a retirement benefit. In March of 2020, Maria has reached her full retirement age and files for benefits. Maria is eligible for a spousal benefit on Joes record. Maria must file for both benefits. She can no longer file only for the spousal benefit and delay filing for her own retirement. She will receive a combination of the two benefits that equals the higher amount.
Example 2: Jennie is a 62-year-old widow. She is eligible for retirement benefits based on her work history, and she is also eligible for survivor benefits based on her deceased husbands record. She starts her survivor benefit this year and only applies for widows benefits. She does not start her own retirement benefit, allowing it to grow. At age 70, she starts her own increased retirement benefit, which she will receive for the rest of her life. The new law does not affect her because deemed filing does not apply to widows and widowers. Jennie will receive the higher of the two benefits
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First Change: Timing Of Multiple Benefits
There are incentives to delay filing for retirement benefits. Your benefits increase for each month you delay receiving retirement benefits between full retirement age and age 70.
Before the change:
Previously some spouses received spousal benefits at full retirement age, while letting the retirement benefits based on their earnings record grow by delaying to file for benefits.
What did the law change?
If you turn 62 before January 2, 2016, and:
- You are eligible for benefits both as a retired worker and as a spouse in the first month you want your benefits to begin and
- You are not yet full retirement age, you must apply for both benefits . You will receive the higher of the two benefits.
If you turn 62 on or after January 2, 2016, and:
- You are eligible for benefits both as a retired worker and as a spouse in the first month you want your benefits to begin, then:
- Deemed filing applies at age 62 and extends to full retirement age and beyond. In addition, deemed filing may occur in any month after becoming entitled to retirement benefits.
Deemed filing means that when you file for either your retirement or your spouses benefit, you are required or deemed to file for the other benefit as well. The Bipartisan Budget Act extends deemed filing rules to apply at full retirement age and beyond.
How To Apply For Disability
People who cant work because of a medical condition thats expected to last at least a year or result in death are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits as long as theyve worked long enough, SSA says. Once a disability begins, a worker must wait five months before receiving benefits.
You can apply for benefits online or by calling 800-772-1213. SSA will send your application to a state agency that makes the decision based on information provided by your doctors. Seventy percent of applicants are denied in their initial application, according to Disability Benefits Help, a group that provides information to applicants and those rejected.
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But denials can be appealed and the success rate for appeals is much higher, according to Disability Benefits Help. Many people hire lawyers to help with their appeals.
People with disabilities can also receive benefits under the Supplemental Security Income program, which is based on financial need.
Contributing: Robert Powell and Elisabeth Buchwald
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Is Social Security Taxable
It depends on your income. Youll be taxed on up to 50% of your benefits if your income is $25,000 to $34,000 for an individual, or $32,000 to $44,000 for married couples filing jointly, according to AARP. Up to 85% of your benefits are taxable if your income is more than $34,000 for an individual or $44,000 for a married couple.
Why Did The Full Retirement Age Change
Full retirement age, also called “normal retirement age,” was 65 for many years. In 1983, Congress passed a law to gradually raise the age because people are living longer and are generally healthier in older age.
The law raised the full retirement age beginning with people born in 1938 or later. The retirement age gradually increases by a few months for every birth year, until it reaches 67 for people born in 1960 and later.
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Number Of Credits Needed For Survivors Benefits
The number of credits needed for family members to be eligible for survivors benefits depends on your age when you die. The younger you are, the fewer credits needed. Nobody needs more than 40 credits.
Under a special rule, we can pay benefits to your children and your spouse caring for your children, even if your record doesn’t have the number of credits needed. They can get benefits if you have credits for one and one-half year’s work in the three years before your death.
If you are receiving retirement or disability benefits at the time of your death, we will pay your survivors based on that entitlement. We will not have to determine your credits again.
What Is Social Security
Social Security is the most successful anti-poverty program in our countrys history, according to the SSA. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law in 1935 as a retirement program for workers. It was part of the historic New Deal, and the first lump-sum payments were made in 1937.
Payments for workers survivors were added by Congress in 1939 and regular monthly checks started in 1940. Disability benefits were added in 1956.
Todays workers pay Social Security taxes into the program, and the money is disbursed as monthly income to beneficiaries in a pay-as-you-go system, according to the National Academy of Social Insurance.
One in five Americans receives benefits, including more than 47 million retired workers and dependents, 10 million disabled workers and dependents, and 6 million survivors of deceased workers.
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You Can Receive Benefits Before Your Full Retirement Age
You can start receiving your Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62, but the benefit amount will be lower than your full retirement benefit amount.
If you start receiving your benefits before your full retirement age, we will reduce your benefits based on the number of months you receive benefits before you reach your full retirement age.
If you wait until age 70 to start your benefits, your benefit amount will be higher because you will receive delayed retirement credits for each month you delay filing for benefits. There is no additional benefit increase after you reach age 70, even if you continue to delay starting benefits.
Benefits For Widows Or Widowers With Disabilities
If something happens to a worker, benefits may be payable to their widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse with a disability if the following conditions are met:
- The widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse is between ages 50 and 60.
- The widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse has a medical condition that meets our definition of disability for adults and the disability started before or within seven years of the worker’s death.
Widows, widowers, and surviving divorced spouses cannot apply online for survivors benefits. If they want to apply for these benefits, they should contact Social Security immediately at 1-800-772-1213 to request an appointment
To speed up the application process, complete an Adult Disability Report and have it available at the time of your appointment.
We use the same definition of disability for widows and widowers as we do for workers.
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How To Apply Online For Just Medicare
Are you within three months of turning age 65 or older and not ready to start your monthly Social Security benefits yet? You can use our online retirement application to sign up just for Medicare and wait to apply for your retirement or spouses benefits later. It takes less than 10 minutes, and there are no forms to sign and usually no documentation is required.
To find out what documents and information you need to apply, go to the .
C You Can Continue Working And Not Receive Your Retirement Benefits
If you decide to continue working and not start your benefits until after full retirement age, your benefits will increase for each month you do not receive them until you reach age 70. There is no incentive to delay filing for your benefits after age 70. Continuing to work may also increase your benefits, because your current earnings could replace an earlier year of lower or no earnings, which can result in a higher benefit amount.
If you are not receiving your Social Security benefits when you turn 65, you will need to apply for Original Medicare three months before you turn 65. If you dont sign up for Medicare Part B when youre first eligible at age 65, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Medicare coverage.
However, if you or your spouse are still working and covered under an employer-provided group health plan, talk to your personnel office before signing up for Medicare Part B. Once the covered employment ends, you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period to sign up for Part B. If so, you wont have to pay a late enrollment penalty.
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How Much Can I Earn And Still Get Benefits
When you begin receiving Social Security retirement benefits, you are considered retired for our purposes. You can get Social Security retirement or survivors benefits and work at the same time. However, there is a limit to how much you can earn and still receive full benefits.
If you are younger than full retirement age and earn more than the yearly earnings limit, we may reduce your benefit amount.
If you are under full retirement age for the entire year, we deduct $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, we deduct $1 in benefits for every $3 you earn above a different limit. In 2022, this limit on your earnings is $51,960. We only count your earnings up to the month before you reach your full retirement age, not your earnings for the entire year.
If your earnings will be over the limit for the year and you will receive retirement benefits for part of the year, we have a special rule that applies to earnings for one year. The special rule lets us pay a full Social Security benefit for any whole month we consider you retired, regardless of your yearly earnings.
Read our publication, How Work Affects Your Benefits, for more information.
When you reach full retirement age:
Benefits For Your Divorced Spouse
If you are divorced, your ex-spouse can receive benefits based on your record if:
- Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer.
- Your ex-spouse is unmarried.
- Your ex-spouse is age 62 or older.
- The benefit that your ex-spouse is entitled to receive based on their own work is less than the benefit they would receive based on your work.
- You are entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.
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How Do You Apply
You can apply online by using our Social Security Retirement/Medicare Benefit Application to apply for retirement, spouse’s, divorced spouse’s or Medicare benefits.
If you and your spouse apply online for retirement benefits at the same time, or if your spouse applies online after you start receiving benefits, we will check their eligibility for benefits as a spouse. If they are qualified, the online application will automatically include a request for spousal benefits on your record.
If your spouse applies for benefits, they need to be ready to supply the information we need to approve their application for these benefits:
The Parts Of Medicare
Social Security enrolls you in Original Medicare .
- Medicare Part A helps pay for inpatient care in a hospital or limited time at a skilled nursing facility . Part A also pays for some home health care and hospice care.
- Medicare Part B helps pay for services from doctors and other health care providers, outpatient care, home health care, durable medical equipment, and some preventive services.
Other parts of Medicare are run by private insurance companies that follow rules set by Medicare.
- Supplemental policies help pay Medicare out-of-pocket copayments, coinsurance, and deductible expenses.
- Medicare Advantage Plan includes all benefits and services covered under Part A and Part B prescription drugs and additional benefits such as vision, hearing, and dental bundled together in one plan.
- Medicare Part D helps cover the cost of prescription drugs.
Most people age 65 or older are eligible for free Medicare hospital insurance if they have worked and paid Medicare taxes long enough. You can sign up for Medicare medical insurance by paying a monthly premium. Some beneficiaries with higher incomes will pay a higher monthly Part B premium. To learn more, read .
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Second Change: Voluntary Suspension Of Benefits
Before the change:
- A worker at full retirement age or older applied for retirement benefits and then voluntarily suspended payment of their retirement benefits.
- The workers voluntary suspension permitted a spousal benefit to be paid to their spouse while the worker was not collecting retirement benefits.
- The worker would then restart their retirement benefits later, for example at age 70, with an increase for every month retirement benefits were suspended.
How did the law change?
For requests submitted on or after April 30, 2016:
- You can still voluntarily suspend benefit payments at your full retirement age to earn higher benefits for delaying.
- During a voluntary suspension, other benefits payable on your record, such as benefits to your spouse, are also suspended.
- If you have suspended your benefits, you cannot continue receiving other benefits on another persons record.
There are some exceptions. If you are a divorced spouse, you can continue receiving a divorced spousal benefit even if your ex-spouse voluntarily suspends his or her retirement benefit.
What is the reason for this change? It makes it fair to delay payments for the workers spouse, and dependents if the worker has not retired or is in suspense. Couples can no longer simultaneously receive a benefit and get a bonus for delaying to file.
Is Your Condition Found In The List Of Disabling Conditions
For each of the major body systems, we maintain a list of medical conditions we consider severe enough to prevent a person from doing SGA. If your condition is not on the list, we must decide if it is as severe as a medical condition that is on the list. If it is, we will find that you have a qualifying disability. If it is not, we then go to Step 4.
We have two initiatives designed to expedite our processing of new disability claims:
- Compassionate Allowances: Certain cases that usually qualify for disability can be allowed as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed. Examples include acute leukemia, Lou Gehrigs disease , and pancreatic cancer.
- Quick Disability Determinations: We use sophisticated computer screening to identify cases with a high probability of allowance.
For more information about our disability claims process, visit our Benefits for People with Disabilities website.
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