Which Year Of My Earnings Will Social Security Use To Determine The Amount Of Benefits To Withhold?

Apr 2 2019 - 9:50am

Hi Larry,
I have a simple question. My husband of 25 years died in 2017. I will be 60 in January of 2020 and plan on collecting survivor benefits. In 2018 I made $29,321. In 2019 I will make about $30,500. I am wondering if social security will use 2018, 2019, or even 2020 to figure out how much I earn above the $17,640 limit before they start taking out $1 for every $2 you earn.
Thanks for your answer, Wendy

Hi Wendy,

I'm sorry for your loss.

They'll use your 2020 earnings. If you file for widow's benefits effective with January 2020, Social Security will ask you to estimate your 2020 earnings, and they'll use that estimate to determine how much of your 2020 benefits need to be withheld (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking.html). Then, when the year is over and your exact 2020 earnings are known, Social Security will go back and either refund any excess withholding to you or ask you to repay benefits if you underestimated your earnings and not enough of your benefits were withheld.

You may want to strongly consider using our software to determine whether or not filing for widow's benefits at age 60 is a good choice for you. You may have better options available.

Best, Jerry