"Special Monthly Rule" for earnings affecting Social Security


Q. Social Security references to the “special monthly rule” (monthly maximum earnings limit versus annual earnings limit) state that this applies in the “first year of retirement.”

I retired at age 62 from the CSRS Offset Retirement System in October 2010, but did not apply for Social Security benefits until May 2011. Is my “first year of retirement” 2010 when I retired from the federal government or is it considered 2011 when I applied for Social Security?

A. The so-called “first year rule” applies only to the year in which you retire, not to the one in which you apply for a Social Security benefit.



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  1. As a retired technical expert with Social Security (32 years) I must take issue with this answer. Social Security will apply the monthly earnings test to the first year of receipt of Social Security benefits regardless of when the actual retirement took place if there is at least one month the person earns wages or self-employment income of less than the monthly exempt amount. The Social Security law cannot and does not address retirement issues for periods prior to entitlement to benefits.

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