The Social Security First Year of Retirement Rule: Everything You Need to Know

social security first year of retirement rule on earnings

Collecting Social Security upon your retirement comes with several rules and restrictions you should be aware of if you want to make the most of your benefit, and those change depending on the age at which you retire. 

One of the most important things to know is the earnings limit, or the maximum amount you can earn to receive your full Social Security benefit if you withdraw before your full retirement age. After you pass the income limit, benefits are reduced according to the amount you make. 

But things are a bit different in the first year of retirement, hence the policy known as the Social Security first year of retirement rule. Essentially, this rule is meant to modify the earnings limit to account for those who retire mid-year, but who have already surpassed the annual earnings limit.

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How to Get a $3,000 Social Security Benefit

In the past, a $3,000 Social Security benefit might have seemed unattainable – even for high income earners. This equates to $36,000 of Social Security in a year, or more than the maximum benefit for those who filed at 66 until 2020. 

But recent increases from inflation have changed the game, and now, $3,000 per month from Social Security isn’t out of the question. Here are some things to know to maximize your benefit and understand the tricky progressive nature of the Social Security formula. 

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Social Security Parent’s Benefits

social security parent's benefits

Parents who were financially dependent on their deceased child may be entitled to a survivor benefit known as Social Security Parent’s benefits. 

It’s one of the least known Social Security benefits, and the number of people receiving it reflects this: As of October 2022 there were only 874 individuals receiving a Social Security Parent’s benefit. For comparison, there are nearly 2 million children receiving a benefit from a deceased parent. 

Some of the low numbers could be due to the fact that it is not a well-publicized benefit. Outside of the SSA website very little is written about this benefit. Today we’ll attempt to clarify the rules and discuss what is required for eligibility and the amount of benefits an eligible parent can receive. 

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Raising the Full Retirement Age for Social Security Benefits

Raising the full retirement age for Social Security

Increasing the full retirement age for Social Security retirement benefits is one of the most common proposals made to help save Social Security. The idea is that by requiring people to be older before they officially hit the full retirement age, there will be less of a burden on the system and therefore keep Social Security solvent for more generations to come. 

Whatever you might think of this proposed change, one thing is for sure: Something needs to be done about Social Security. 

We are now within 15 years of having benefits cut in order to prevent the program’s trust funds from running dry. Most projections suggest that benefits will have to be cut by around 25% if nothing else is done. Most people simply cannot afford to see a benefit reduction like this! 

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The 2023 IRMAA Brackets

If your income exceeds certain thresholds, you could be subject to the income-related monthly adjustment amount (IRMAA). This is a surcharge that is added on top of your standard premium for Medicare Part B and Part D. 

What are the 2023 IRMAA Brackets?

The IRMAA for Part B and Part D is calculated according to your income. To determine whether you are subject to IRMAA charges, Medicare uses the adjusted gross income you reported on your IRS tax return two years ago. 

Here’s the breakdown of the 2023 Part B and Part D IRMAA.

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The Social Security Inflation Donut Hole

social security donut hole

Is there a ‘donut hole’ for Social Security inflation adjustments for individuals 60 and 61 years of age?

I’ve been receiving lots of questions about benefits increases since the latest Social Security COLA was announced. The alleged donut hole for inflation adjustments to Social Security for individuals aged 60 and 61 is one of the questions frequently raised. During this period of high inflation, some members of this age cohort are upset that they may be missing out on significant benefits increases.

This thinking is based on the observation that if all wages are indexed through age 59, and the cost of living adjustments don’t start until 62, there are two years of no inflation. 

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How Social Security Is Funded

how social security is funded

It’s common to hear that Social Security will run out of money within a few years or otherwise be bankrupt by the time future generations are ready to start claiming benefits. While there may be problems for the program in the future if changes aren’t made, it’s essential to understand how Social Security is funded and how the program works in general so that you can better understand where problems might arise. Putting the many rumors about Social Security’s impending demise into context can help you better plan for your retirement and claim your benefits with less fear that the program may not be there when you’re ready. 

Let’s look at how Social Security is funded, its expenses, and some of the problems it inherently faces. 

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The 2023 Social Security COLA: Unintended Consequences 

Social Security’s 8.7% cost of living adjustment is old news by now. There are a lot of sites that have covered it, and most of them have covered it more than once.

Considering how hot this topic has been for a while, it’s not surprising. According to the modern method of calculating increases, this was the fourth largest cost of living increase in the history of Social Security. 

This cost of living increase will be good news for the moment, but it will have a high cost and accelerate the problems with Social Security.

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Does the Social Security Administration Owe You Money? 

does the SSA owe money

Several thousand people have been underpaid by Social Security, according to a government watchdog report.

We’re not talking about small dollars here either.

According to estimates, the previous underpayments have been at least $131 million, and every year an additional $9.8 million will be added.

This comes from a 2018 report from the Office of the Inspector General. This is the agency that’s in charge of overseeing several of the big government programs like Social Security.  Although this isn’t a new report, there has been an update that should anger those affected.

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How Using Social Security Software May Lead to Bad Decisions

social security software can lead to bad decisions

Social Security is a complicated topic, especially when determining tax implications and how best to incorporate your benefits into your retirement plan. Many financial planners rely on data plugged into Social Security software to help their clients choose the best time to file for benefits, but depending only on a software program can mean that a lot of the details get missed and could cost you thousands in taxes during retirement.

Let’s look at how filing for Social Security benefits at age 65 versus 70 can affect your tax bill in retirement and how Social Security software is a one-size-fits-all solution to a highly individual decision.  

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