Ask Larry

Will My Benefit Payments Resume If I Stop Working?

Hello Larry,

Myself, like many others had no choice but to initiate Social Security early retirement at age 62 during the pandemic.
It has been a tight budget and I may need to now return to work full time.
I know it is too late to withdraw my benefit claim, as well as my benefit will be reduced every dollar for 2.00 over the 18900.00 earnings limit, as well the whole benefit will be held whilst I work full time, if I make more than the benefit received.
QUESTION 1: if I work full time beginning January 2022, benefit is held, however if I quit Full time December 31, 2022 (or December 31, 2023) will my benefits resume on January 1, 2023 (or January 2024 if I quit in 2023)?
QUESTION 2:is it possible that my benefit would increase with the added one year or two year work history?

Thank you for your column!

Hi. Yes, if your benefits are suspended and if your work and earnings stop then your benefits could be reinstated. The monthly earnings test would no longer be available to you if you started drawing benefits last year, but you could still be paid for all months of any calendar year in which you earn less than Social Security's annual earnings test limit.

For example, if you return to work in October 2021 and if you don't earn more than $18960 in the calendar year of 2021, you could still be paid for all months of 2021 including the months that you work full time.

And, yes, it's possible that your benefit rate could increase if you return to work. Social Security retirement benefits are based on an average of a person's highest 35 years of Social Security covered wage-indexed earnings, so you can increase your retirement benefit rate if you work and earn more in a year than you did in one of your previous highest 35 years of earnings. Furthermore, Social Security would recalculate your benefit rate effective with the month you reach full retirement age (FRA) to remove any reduction for age applied to your benefit rate for any month that your benefits were withheld due to your earnings.

Best, Jerry

Oct 30 2021 - 12:17pm
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