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Social Security Help: Dividend Income and the Social Security Earnings Test

For early claimers, some kinds of income can temporarily reduce your Social Security benefits.

Question: I am 62. I have no wage earnings, but I do receive $100,000 per year in unqualified dividends from real estate investment trusts. Will that income squeeze my Social Security if I claim benefits early?

Answer: No. The Social Security earnings test considers only wages from a job and net self-employment income. Investment income doesn't count. The test applies to those who claim benefits before full retirement age, which is 66 for those born from 1943 through 1954. A 62-year-old who files this year, for example, would lose $1 in benefits for every $2 of earnings over $16,920. Benefits lost to the test are made up later, when benefits are recalculated at full retirement age.

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