How Does Social Security Know How Much You Earn Per Month?

Jun 24 2017 - 7:09am

I filed in May for reduced benefits at age 62 while still working as needed. I got different answers from different people in the social security office regarding the amount I can earn for the rest of the year. The first one said I can earn up to the 16,920 in the last 7 months, but then a later one, said no, I can only earn 1410 per month.
My question: How do they know how much you earn per month? What if 1600 one month and 1300 another? Do you report monthly to them? What if at the end of the year it all averages out to no more than 1410/month? The first scenario made me think I didn't have to watch my hours as much. The second makes me restrict myself to working 5 days a month. I can't find the answer to how things are reported anywhere. I know they send out a statement at the end of the year and you file taxes and have to list your income, but being the grace year, my first 5 months don't 'count' anyways. It just doesn't tell me HOW it all works with reporting. And is the last guy right? No more than 1410/month, vs 16,920 for the year even though it's only 7 months? Thanks!


To answer your last question first, yes the person you spoke with last was correct. The monthly earnings test is an either-or test. You can be paid for any month in which you earn $1410 or less, and you can't be paid for any month in which you earn $1411 or more ( And, they go by how much you earn in a month as opposed to how much you are paid in the month.

Social Security normally accepts a person's allegation regarding their monthly earnings, but it's possible that you could be asked to submit proof. It's your responsibility to report material changes to Social Security, so if you've told them that you will earn $1410 or less for the remaining months of this year and you end up earning more than that, you should report the change as soon as possible.

Best, Jerry