Social Security


Q.  If a person retires on Dec. 31, 2011, and starts drawing Social Security as of Jan. 1, 2012, at age 64, would there be an offset if the amount of the final payout exceeded the Social Security benefits for the year (2012)?

A: Probably not, because of what the Social Security Administration calls “the first year rule.” That rule applies to earnings for one year, usually the first year of retirement. It allows SSA to pay a full Social Security check for any whole month in which it considers you to be retired and when your earnings from wages or self employment are $1,180 or less.  See


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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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