Full Retirement Age
- Social Security determines your full retirement age by your birth date. If you were born between 1943 and 1954, your full retirement age is 66. If you were born in 1955 through 1959, your full retirement age progresses to age 67 and reaches 67 for those who were born in 1960. You may collect Social Security as early as age 62 or as late as 70. Social Security adds no funds to your account after age 70.
- If you take early retirement, or retirement at any age before you reach full retirement age, you may incur penalties imposed by the Social Security regulations. The figures change periodically, but in 2011 you may earn $14,160 in income before incurring penalties. For every $2 you make in excess of $14,160, you pay a $1 penalty. More liberal restrictions apply to the year you reach full retirement age, allowing you to make $37,680 without penalty. The penalty for that one year is $1 for every $3 you make in excess of $37,680.
- If you incur penalties for working during early retirement, Social Security automatically recalculates your benefits at full retirement age. You may receive more in your Social Security check at full retirement age than you receive during early retirement. The amount of change will not likely be significant. If you make more money during early retirement years than you made previously, Social Security can use those years for calculation of your benefit, since it uses the top 35 years for calculations.
After Full Retirement Age
- Once you reach full retirement age, you may work and earn any sum of money without penalty. You may pay federal income taxes on your Social Security income if you earn more than $25,000 a year in combined income. Combined income is your adjusted gross income plus nontaxable interest and 50 percent of your annual Social Security. The Internal Revenue Service taxes 50 percent of Social Security if your combined income is $25,000 to $34,000 and you file as a single person, or $32,000 to $44,000 if you are married filing jointly. IRS and Social Security regulations require taxation of 85 percent of Social Security benefits for singles whose combined income is more than $34,000 and married couples with a combined income of more than $44,000.