|By Wayne Hatcher|
Social Security District
Manager in Parkersburg, WV
You probably already know that there was an increase in Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) monthly payments at the beginning of the year. If you receive monthly Social Security or SSI payments, you received a 3.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment beginning with your payment for the month of January 2012.
For people who receive Social Security retirement benefits, there's more good news. In addition to receiving a little more each month, you may now earn more income without offsetting your benefits because the "earnings test" numbers also have gone up.
If you have reached your full retirement age (age 66 for anyone born between 1943 and 1954), the earnings test does not apply and you may earn as much money as you can without any effect on your benefits.
However, if you are younger than full retirement age, collecting benefits and still working, we do offset some of your benefit amount after a certain earnings limit is met. For people under full retirement age in 2012, the annual exempt amount is $14,640, and if you do reach that limit, we withhold $1 for every $2 above that limit from your monthly benefit amount. For people who retired early, continue working and will obtain full retirement age in 2012, the annual exempt amount is $38,880 and we will withhold $1 for every $3 you earn over the limit from your monthly benefits.
You can learn more about the earnings test and how benefits may be reduced by visiting our website www.socialsecurity.gov and searching on the topic "earnings test."