Retirement Trajectories and Social Security’s Retirement Earnings Test

TitleRetirement Trajectories and Social Security’s Retirement Earnings Test
Publication TypeGovernment Report
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsBoard, SSecurity A
PublisherSocial Security Advisory Board
KeywordsEarnings, Retirement, Social Security

Social Security’s retirement earnings test (RET) temporarily withholds or reduces the Social Security benefits of people below full retirement age (FRA) who work and earn above a certain threshold while collecting retirement benefits. Those benefits are increased at FRA to account for the months when benefits were withheld or reduced under the RET. The legislative intent of the RET, which has been part of the law since Social Security’s creation in 1935, was to determine whether a worker had left the workforce, since Social Security is designed as an insurance program to partially replace insured workers’ wages that are lost due to old age, disability, or death (for surviving dependents). Studies show that most people do not fully understand how the RET works. While many know that benefits are reduced due to earnings before FRA, most do not understand that this reduction is temporary.

Citation Key13667