Social Security income limits depend on the recipient’s age. People who chose to receive benefits at their official retirement age or later have no income limits. Those who receive Social Security benefits early will find their benefit reduced or eliminated entirely as they hit certain income levels.
Income can only reduce the benefits of people who take retirement before reaching full retirement age–66 for those born between 1943 and 1954, up to 67 for those born in or after 1960. The reduction only lasts as long as income is over the limit, and reductions end the month the recipient reaches full retirement age.
The income limit depends on a recipient’s age. Up until the year a person reaches full retirement age the annual income limit is $14,160 (in 2011). After reaching the annual limit for non-Social Security income, monthly benefit checks are reduced by $1 for every $2 earned over the limit. The rules for early retirees in the calendar year they reach full retirement are different. The income limit for that final year is increased to $37,680, after which benefits are reduced by only $1 for every $3 earned over the limit. In addition, earnings over the limit do not carry over past the month a person reaches full retirement. As long as the Social Security benefit recipient maintains an income below $1180 for the remainder of his first year of full retirement he receives full benefits.
No, any withheld amount is not lost. The reduced or eliminated payments are added to post-retirement benefit amount.