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Social Security Q&A: Retirement benefits online

Social Security Q&A: Benefits include earnings even for partial year worked in year of retirement.
Published: July 21, 2013

Q: Can I apply for retirement benefits online?

A: Yes, you can and it is quick, convenient, and easy. You'll find the application information at You also can calculate your estimated benefits by using our Retirement Estimator at Apply online and save a trip to the office and a wait in line.


Q: I worked the first half of the year, but plan to retire this month. Will Social Security count the amount I earn for this year when I retire?

A: Yes. If you retire midyear, we count your earnings for the entire year.

We have a special “earnings test” rule we apply to annual earnings, usually in the first year of retirement. Under this rule, you get a full payment for any whole month we consider you retired regardless of your yearly earnings.

We consider you retired during any month your earnings are $1,260 or less, or if you have not performed substantial services in self-employment. We do not consider income earned, beginning with the month you reach full retirement age.

Learn more about the earnings test rule at

This column was prepared by the Social Security Administration. For fast answers to specific Social Security questions, call Social Security toll-free at (800) 772-1213. For more information, go online to


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