Can I Suspend My Benefits If I Get A Job?

Nov 2 2016 - 10:45am

I started receiving my social security benefits at age 62. I am now 63 and am finding that I need to go back to work to offset our health insurance costs and lower farm income because of commodity prices. My husband is self employed and also 63. He is planning on taking his social security at 66. If I get a job, can I suspend my social security benefits until age 66?

Hi,

You can't voluntarily suspend benefits until you reach full retirement age. However, if you do get a job and earn more than the amount allowed under Social Security's earnings test (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking2.html), your benefits will be suspended due to your excess earnings. This year, the exempt amount of earnings for people below full retirement age is $15,720, and Social Security withholds $1 of benefits for each $2 that they earn in excess of that amount.

So, if you return to work and earn enough, it would effectively result in the suspension of all of your benefits. Then, after you reach age 66, Social Security will recalculate and raise your benefit amount to give you credit for the months that your benefits were withheld due to your excess earnings.

If you do get a job and expect to earn more than the Social Security limit, be sure to notify Social Security of your expected earnings in a timely manner. Otherwise, Social Security has no way of knowing that you've returned to work until they receive a copy of your W-2 long after the end of the year. By then, it's too late to suspend your benefits, which could result in an overpayment that you will be expected to repay.

By the way, your husband may wish to run the maximization software available on this website before making any filing decisions. It may be best for him to file just for spousal benefits on your record at age 66, then switch to his own record at age 70. The software will help him determine the best strategy.

Best, Jerry