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Social Security Q&A

Does Early Retirement Mean Benefits Reduced Forever; Wife Gets No Credit from Family Business

Many seniors may be surprised by these questions and the answers; things you need to know about Social Security

Jan. 15, 2014 - Two good questions are answered today in the Social Security Q&A by Oscar Garcia, Public Affairs Specialist with the Social Security Administration. A senior wants to know if taking early retirement means the benefit will continue to be reduced. And, a wife wants to know why she is not getting credits for earnings she and her husband earn in joint business.


If I take early retirement and still work will my benefits continue to be reduced because I retired at age 62?


Social Security will review the age 62 reduction factor when a person reaches full retirement age.  At that time, we will determine if there is any month a benefit was not paid because of earnings that exceeded the annual earnings test amount.  We remove those month(s) from the reduction factor calculation.  Then, we pay the higher benefit for the month the person attained full retirement age and for all subsequent months.


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Here is how this works. Suppose you apply for benefits at age 62, but continue to work. Prior to reaching full retirement age you do not receive benefits for 12 months due to your earnings being more than the annual work limit. When you attain full retirement age, Social Security will credit the reduction factor for those 12 months back to you.

This means your benefit amount will be re-calculated and adjusted upward. This way your benefit amount is calculated only on the actual number of months that you received early benefits.


My husband and I have owned and operated a business together for many years, but my Social Security Statement does not show any earnings for me. We file joint income tax returns every year. What happened to my share of our earnings?


If you and your husband own and operate a business together and you share in the profits and losses, you may be entitled to receive Social Security credits as a partner. This may be true even if you and your husband have no formal partnership agreement.

To receive credit for your share of the business income, you must file a separate self-employment return (Schedule SE) even though you and your husband file a joint income tax return. If you do not file a separate Schedule SE, all the earnings from the business will be reported under your husband's Social Security number.

In that case, your Social Security record will not show your earnings and you may not get credit for them. If you have not filed Schedule SE for yourself for past years, you may be able to file corrected tax returns for past years.

You should contact the Internal Revenue Service for more information on this, or any other tax-related questions. This is a good reason why people should get into the habit of checking their Social Security earnings record at least every 3 years. If you are not receiving credit for all of your earnings, you want to learn about it as soon as possible so that you can correct it while you still have access to important records. The best way to check your earnings history is by creating a “my Social Security” account at

 Oscar Garcia is a Public Affairs Specialist with the Social Security Administration. You can direct your questions to him at: SSA, 411 Richland Hills Drive, San Antonio, Texas, 78245. You can also email him at


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