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Test can help determine how part-time earnings affect Social Security

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Q: If I take a part-time job, I know my earnings can reduce the amount of Social Security payable. Are the earnings levels based on my age when I first started SSA retirement last year or my age now?

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A: Based on your age and calendar year earnings, the annual retirement earnings test concerns how your earnings in a year can potentially reduce the amount of SSA benefits payable that year. Your current age, not your age when first starting Social Security retirement benefits is important for earnings test purposes. Different earning levels exist based on whether you are younger than full retirement age (FRA) during the entire year or reach your FRA during the calendar year.

Once past your full retirement age, the earnings test no longer applies. Determined by year of birth, a FRA chart is at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/retirechart.htm. An easy to use calculator at www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/COLA/RTeffect.html shows the effect of the retirement earnings test on your benefits.

Earnings amounts for annual test purposes usually change each year but include only your gross wages and net income from self-employment. In the year of retirement a one-time rule considers earnings on a monthly basis, rather than by the calendar year, so that SSA retirement can be received for months you are retired, regardless of your yearly earnings. Earnings test details are in SSA publication 05-10069 "How Work Affects Your Benefits" online at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10069.html or from any SSA office. Different rules apply for people receiving disability benefits.

Did you know? Annually for Mother's Day, Social Security announces the most popular baby names of the previous year based on SSA records. Nationally in 2008, Emma replaced Emily as the nation's new most popular name for girls. The most popular boy's name, Jacob, remained the same for the 10th year in a row.

In Minnesota the most popular girls name was Ava and the most popular boys name was Ethan. In North Dakota the most popular girls name was also Ava while the most popular boys name was Carter.

Popular baby name information is online at www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/babynames.

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