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Howard Kossover: SSA earnings test amounts changed for 2014 retirees

Q: In 2014, how much can I earn before my Social Security retirement is reduced?

A: The annual earnings test concerns how your own employment earnings in a year affect your Social Security in that year.

The earnings test includes only your personal gross wages or net self-employment for the full calendar year. Other income or income of a spouse is not applicable.

Three annual earnings levels exist, all based on your full retirement age (FRA). Learn your FRA at

Earnings test amounts for 2014 are changed from 2013. They are:

  • If under full retirement age (FRA) for the entire calendar year, $1 in benefits will be deducted for each $2 earned above the 2014 limit of $15,480.
  • If you reach FRA in 2014, $1 in benefits will be deducted from each $3 earned above the 2014 limit of $41,400, but only for earnings before the month you reach FRA.
  • No earnings limit exists starting with the month you reach full retirement age.

Do you plan to start Social Security retirement in 2014? Often people retiring mid-year have already earned over the annual limit for their age.

To allow the start of SSA retirement regardless of expected calendar year earnings, there is a special one-time rule based on monthly earnings.

This applies for one year, usually the first year of retirement, and lets people receive Social Security for months that they are retired.

For example, a person retiring in 2014, at least age 62 but younger than full retirement age the entire year, can receive retirement for months that gross wages do not exceed $1,290 even though calendar year earnings will be above retirement test amounts.

Similar rules apply for self-employment.

Learn about the earnings test at

See for more about the special, one-time, monthly test.

The earnings test does not apply to people receiving SSA benefits due to their own disability.

If receiving benefits due to disability, contact Social Security before working.

Based in Grand Forks, Howard I. Kossover is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Send general interest questions to him at Read his online articles at