Social Security: Not just for retired workers!

Jul 2, 2012, 9:55 a.m.

While many retirees enjoy collecting the social security benefits they earned over a lifetime of work, it is notable that others are collecting Social Security while working, either before or after typical retirement ages. For some, the milestone birthday that enables them to begin collecting retirement from the Social Security Administration (SSA) is cause for some concern. They may feel that since they are getting SSA benefits, they can no longer work. This is not the case for most persons, and Social Security is not just for retired workers.

Workers of all ages may tap into earned credits for Social Security benefits at an earlier age, or while still working, even after their official qualifying birthday. Those who receive disability payments also are allowed to have earnings, up to a set limit. Once they exceed that limit, benefits are reduced, or if the extra earnings are substantial, their benefits may be completely stopped.

Everything with regard to retirement benefits is centered upon your "full retirement age" and the date that you begin collecting benefits during the year you reach that age. There are special rules if you are going to work; retirees can earn an unlimited amount while collecting Social Security benefits if they begin collecting when they reach full retirement age. Application should be made at the beginning of the year in which you reach that designated age. There may be some deduction in benefits for excess earnings in months prior to your actual birth month.

Younger persons who are receiving Social Security benefits prior to their official retirement age are allowed to earn up to $14,640 yearly, in 2012, without a penalty or reduction in their benefit amount. If you are collecting Social Security while working, you must report earnings, so the SSA can continue to calculate how much and if you are still eligible to continue getting that full amount. A similar program is in place for those on disability; you can work up to 20 hours weekly and have limited earnings before it affects your SSA check.

For many, collecting Social Security while working is a must, because the SSA benefit per month is not enough to pay for living expenses. They earn additional income from a part-time job, hobby sales or other resources. Others who are collecting social security disability benefits may also be supplementing their income. This can be a good thing, because later on, benefits will be recalculated to incorporate additional income received and future benefits may increase.

Social Security is not just for retired workers. Many younger persons are collecting early retirement benefits, disability payments or survivor benefits from the SSA. These payments were earned in earlier years and from current income. The goal for many is to wait until their full retirement age in order to collect the highest benefit amount; many cannot wait that long and must begin collecting their earned benefits sooner. Collecting Social Security while working is a good option for many people; each person should consult with advisors from the SSA to determine their best course of action. To learn more, visit the SSA website , call or visit a local office of the SSA.

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