That was the headline of a recent column by Social Security retirement expert Tom Margenau. He’s referring to the rule that applies when a person receives early Social Security benefits, but continues to work.
If you might be in this situation, you need to read the column. Here are the opening paragraphs:
If someone would appoint me the “Master of the Social Security Universe,” or give me some other appropriate title that would allow me to change any law or regulation on Social Security’s books, I would immediately get rid of the earnings penalty provisions of the law. These are the rules that limit the amount of money a Social Security recipient under the age of 66 can earn if he or she is working while collecting benefits.
These rules confuse almost every Social Security beneficiary. And worse yet, they are a nightmare for the government to administer. Because of the messy rules, millions of Social Security recipients are being either overpaid or underpaid every year. And once you fall into the overpayment/underpayment trap, it can be years before your benefits are straightened out.
And this has been going on for decades now. I remember trying to explain the complex rules to perplexed beneficiaries back in my early years of working for the Social Security Administration. At the time, my mother was getting Social Security benefits and was working part time on the side. And she, too, was always getting either too much or not enough in her Social Security checks. And I used to tell folks this: “If I can’t keep my own mother’s Social Security straight, how do you expect me to help you?”