Does Social Security Use The Annual Earnings Test If It's More Advantageous To Me Than The Monthly Test?

Jul 21 2020 - 10:09am

I turned 62 mid January 2020 and started SS in Feb (first payment in March). In April I started a job (no earnings before that) and will earn about $28,000 for the 8 months at about $3500 per month. Since I will be over the $1520 for those 8 months will I be eligible for any benefits? Do they use the annual earnings test if more advantageous meaning I would only have to pay back about half of the approx $10k I will be over?


Yes, Social Security will use whichever earnings test (i.e. annual or monthly) would allow you to be paid the most benefits for 2020 based on your work and earnings. The monthly test would only allow you to be paid for February and March, so if the annual earnings test would allow you to be paid benefits for more than 2 months Social Security will use the annual earnings test in your case.

Since you already know that you will be earning too much to be paid all of your benefits this year, you are supposed to notify Social Security of that fact immediately. Social Security will then withhold some of your 2020 benefits so that you won't have an overpayment when the year is finished. Having benefits withheld while you're working is almost always preferable to getting overpaid, since you can then avoid having to repay an overpayment at a time when you may no longer be working.

Also, depending on your future plans regarding work and earnings, you may want to consider withdrawing your application ( and reapplying at a later date in order to receive a higher monthly benefit rate. Our software ( allows you to run what-if scenarios so that you can determine your best strategy.

Best, Jerry