Working after retirement and your Social Security benefits

You might continue working after you are eligible for Social Security. Whatever your reasons, the decision can have a major impact on your Social Security retirement benefits.
For example, if you’re still working after you’ve already filed for Social Security, and before your full retirement age, your Social Security payments will be lower. To find your full retirement age, see the Social Security Administration retirement age chart.

The basics of Social Security benefits

You can file for Social Security retiree benefits as early as age 62, but the amount you’ll receive each month will be substantially lower than if you wait. If you file at your “full retirement age” or FRA—which ranges from 65 to 67, depending on the year you were born—you should receive full benefits.
If you wait even longer before filing, your monthly benefit will continue to go up.
Once you turn 70, you reach “use it or lose it.” Here, you’ll start forgoing benefits if you don’t file. The good news is you’ll be eligible to receive maximum benefits. And if you’re working past that point—and still paying into the system—your monthly Social Security benefits could continue to increase.

Claiming Social Security while working

If, however, you’re working after you’ve claimed benefits—and before FRA—the government will reduce your monthly Social Security benefit.
This means you may want to consider when to begin taking Social Security.
The younger you are the less you will receive. The news gets better the older you get. For example, if you’re working when you hit FRA (typically 66 or 67) your benefits will still be reduced, but not as much. And, if you’re working after you reach FRA, there’s no reduction in benefits.
For more on estimating benefits, visit the Social Security retirement income estimator.
Use the SSA’s own retirement income estimator:

Social security benefits income by age

Age Income cutoff as of 2016 Reduction in benefits
Age 62 to 66 or 67 $15,720 $1 for every $2 earned above limit
The year you hit full retirement age (FRA) generally 66 or 67 $41,880 $1 for every $3 earned above limit
FRA and above None    None. Working after age 70 may increase your benefits  
Note: scaling applies to all types of Social Security, including spousal and survivor benefits.
Also, if you file for Social Security before FRA and claim benefits while you’re working, you’ll eventually get those payments back down the road. In short, you’ll get the same amount of benefits, but if you claim early Social Security while you’re still working, it will take you a lot longer to get them.
For more on working and claiming Social Security, visit the Social Security website.

If you choose to withdraw your Social Security filing

You may decide to start taking Social Security only to have your situation change. For example, you may return to work and wish to delay receiving your benefits.
You should know, you can withdraw your application to begin receiving benefits just once. You will also be required to pay back to Social Security all the benefits you received. Be aware, though, you can’t withdraw your application after a full year of having received retirement benefits.

Talk with advisors

There are a lot of variables to Social Security. So, it’s important to know what to consider. We suggest speaking with a tax advisor for guidance about your specific situation. Separately, we encourage you to speak with a TIAA advisor for information about your retirement income needs.
This material is for informational or educational purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation or investment advice in connection with a distribution, transfer or rollover, a purchase or sale of securities or other investment property, or the management of securities or other investments, including the development of an investment strategy or retention of
an investment manager or advisor. This material does not take into account any specific objectives or circumstances of any particular investor, or suggest any specific course of action. Investment decisions should be made in consultation with an investor’s personal advisor based on the investor’s own objectives and circumstances.