I am receiving benefits (on my own record) before FRA, when survivor's benefit will kick in and have a question about self employment and what is meant by "substantial services". I just became an independent contractor for a state funded program working with vulnerable populations. What concerns me Is, even if I keep my part time earnings below the minimum cap ($17640), is there a risk of losing benefits if my services are deemed as "substantial"? Since I will be switching over to the survivor's benefits later, any benefits I lose now will not be recouped later, not to mention that self employment income is essential to covering the gap between benefits and living expenses. Many thanks!
No, as long as your earnings for 2019 are below $17,640 you can be paid all of your benefits this year regardless on how many hours you work. The monthly retirement test is only looked at as an alternative to the annual earnings test when the annual test would result in the withholding of at least some of the worker's benefits. If your calendar year earnings don't exceed the annual earnings test exempt amount, the monthly breakdown of your work and earnings is irrelevant.