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Greetings, Schnooky, and welcome. You wrote:

<<I'll be 62 in April and am considering applying for SS benefits some time this year. My benefit will be about 1190/mo. I am still working and will make about 50k if I work all year. I believe I can earn about 9,600 before my SS benefit is reduced. Does all the money I make this year count against my benefit, or only the money I earn after I start receiving the benefit?
Also, suppose I start receiving the SS benefit and then decide to go back to work and earn more then 9,600, what happens to my benefits? I understand that they will be reduced 1 dollar for every 2 dollars I earn (over 9,600)--but, when/how does this happen? At tax time next year?
If my benefit is reduced (or totally lost), is it lost forever or will I get it back later?
What I'm thinking is-- why not take the benefit no matter how much I earn and invest it during the year and then settle up at tax time. >>

The Social Security Administration has written a great pamphlet that answers all of your questions. It's called "How Work Affects Your Benefits," and it's available at You should read it as it covers all the issues you raise.

BTW, do NOT wait until income tax time to tell the SSA you have worked while receiving benefits. They will take any forfeitures out of your following year's benefits should you do that. You might not be working that year, and thus might need all of the benefit in that year. If you tell them ahead of time, they will reduce the benefit in the year you are actually working. If they take too much, they'll return it to you.

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