Reporting less-than-expected earnings

Farm Forum

Q Last year I worked fewer hours and earned less than originally planned. Do I need to tell Social Security that my earnings were less than expected?

A If you received SSA retirement or survivors benefits and were younger than full retirement age (FRA) for at least part of last year, report your 2013 employment earnings if your estimated or actual earnings were more than 2013 earnings test amounts for your age. Before potentially reducing 2013 benefits, a person younger than FRA the entire year could earn $15,120. A person reaching FRA during the year could earn $40,080. There is no earnings limit starting with the month you reach full retirement age. Special rules exist for people who retired during the year after already earning over annual limits.

Earnings for this include only your own gross wages from employment and net-income from self-employment. Your estimated earnings amount was used to pay benefits during the year. If your 2013 estimate was high, perhaps you are due more from Social Security. If your estimate was low, perhaps you need to return funds. If needed, report your actual 2013 earnings when you receive your W-2 form or compute your self-employment income. Report by calling the SSA national toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or your local office.

Working in 2014? Earnings test amounts for 2014 are at Provide an estimated earnings amount to Social Security if receiving SSA retirement or survivors benefits and expecting to earn more than the 2014 amounts for your age. Estimates can be changed during the year as needed.

The earnings test does not apply if you receive benefits because you have a disability. In this case, report starting or ending work to Social Security at the time.

Did You Know: On January 31, 1940, the first monthly Social Security retirement check was issued to Ida May Fuller of Ludlow, Vermont, in the amount of $22.54, making her the first person to receive a recurring monthly Social Security payment.

Born in 1874, Ms. Fuller worked as a schoolteacher before becoming a legal secretary in 1905 and eventually retiring in 1939. She started collecting benefits in January 1940 at age 65 and lived to be 100 years old, dying in 1975 with a secure place in Social Security history.

Based in Grand Forks, Howard I. Kossover is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Send general interest questions to him at Read his online articles at