Q. I retired from federal government Dec. 31 2011; signed up for Social Security on Jan. 24, 2012; and started drawing benefits in February 2012. I did not go back to work until July 2012 and worked until December. In some of those months, I exceeded the $1,200 threshold. Does Social Security average the 11 months, or will they penalize me for each month separately?
A. The earnings test is applied when you earn more than the annual limit during a calendar year. In 2012 that limit was $14,640.