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Starting Benefits Mid-year but Over the Monthly-Limit

The AMAC Foundation’s Social Security Advisory Service is receiving quite a few inquiries from folks looking to start their benefits early, especially when one spouse loses their employment and the other spouse is a low-earner. The low-earning spouse needs to continue working, and the additional income from their Social Security benefits is critical. The problem they face is that they may exceed the monthly limit. Here’s an option to consider:

Call Social Security and have them apply the annual limit to their benefits for the entire year (this includes the earnings from before they start their benefits) and have SS withhold their benefits upfront. This would eliminate the need to worry about the monthly limit.

Example: They want to start their benefits in February, a

nd they know they will make $28,000, including January for the entire year. Their monthly benefit will be $1,800. You would take their annual income of $28,000 minus $18,240 (the annual limit for 2020) equals $9,760 divided by 2 equals $4,880 divided by $1,800 equals 2.71 payments. You could ask Social Security to withhold your February, March and April payments and you would receive your full monthly payment for the rest of the year, even though each month you made more than the monthly limit of $1,520.  A final adjustment will be made the following year if your estimate is not correct. You can also change your estimate during the year if circumstances change.

If you need additional information about this optional strategy, please contact our free-to-the-public Advisory Service at 888-750-2622 or by email at


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