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Earnings Tests Apply to Spousal and Survivor Social Security Benefits As Well

If you’re receiving Spousal or Survivor Social Security benefits and you’re under Full Retirement Age, you need to know that any earnings that you have can have an impact on the benefits that you’re receiving.  These are the same limits that apply to regular retirement Social Security benefits, and they apply in the same manner.

For 2013, if you will not reach Full Retirement Age during this calendar year, the earnings limit is $15,120, or $1,260 per month.  For every $2 over that limit that you earn for the year, your Social Security benefit will be reduced by $1.  For example, if you earned $20,000 for the year, you are over the limit by $4,880, and you’ll lose $2,440 of your benefit.

If you will reach Full Retirement Age in 2013, the earnings limit is $40,080, or $3,340 per month – and the treatment is different.  In this case, for every $3 that you earn over this limit (the monthly limit), you’ll forego $1 in Social Security benefits.

In both cases, if you have earnings above the limit and some of your expected benefit is withheld, you will receive credit for those months of withheld benefits when you reach Full Retirement Age, and your Social Security benefit will be adjusted upward.  Once you reach Full Retirement Age there is no limit on the amount of earnings that you can have – your benefit will not be reduced due to your continued employment after this age.

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