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<<I can't find it clearly spelled out in any of the pubs, but my gut reaction is they will look at the Social Security Wages and ignore the taxable>>

I don't think this is right. There are really 2 issues here. Wages for computing your monthly benefit amount and earnings for determining if you are eligible for a certain month or period (annual earnings test). SS wages (vs. total wages) are ALWAYS used when calculating your monthly benefit. When determining if you meet the earnings test, any earned wages (not just SS wages) will be used whether they are SS wages or not.

SS has to look at all earned wages and sometimes excludes some for the earnings test. Good example is after you retire, you may get a payment for accrued vacation pay. If that vacation pay was earned in prior years, it is excluded from the earnings test. However, it will be used in computing any future increases in your monthly benefit.

Best advice in the last post was call SS. Give them the specifics of your situation and they should be able to answer your questions.
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