Does Retiring Early Affect My Social Security Benefit?

November 05, 2019
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Unfortunately, the answer is “it depends.” However, I hope to share with you enough information for you to find out how it personally affects your benefit. Social Security benefits are based on your 35 highest years of earnings. For years prior to age 60, those years must be adjusted for wage inflation. So let’s take 2 examples.


Scenario #1 – You started working part time at 18, got a full time job at 22, and steadily increased your salary until you were thinking about retirement at age 58. Your 35 highest years would be your last 35 years of full time earnings, from age 23 to 58. In this case, your benefits would be lower that the benefit statement suggests, but it is usually not by a large amount since you have 35 good years of earnings.


Scenario #2 - You started working at 22, and steadily increased your salary until you stopped working from ages 28-38 and then starting working again with a higher salary from 38-61. You would not have 35 years of earnings since you only worked a total of 29 years. If you retire now and don’t work again, those “0’s” for the last 6 of the 35 years can really pull down your estimate.


However, for your specific situation, I suggest using the “Online Calculator” that Social Security provides. You will need your Social Security statement so you can enter your earnings by year.


  1. Enter DOB
  2. Enter age at retirement
  3. Enter earnings by year from your Social Security statement
  4. Enter estimated earnings for current years and all future years
  5. Calculate benefit
  6. If you plan to delay taking Social Security beyond your retirement, you will need to adjust it.


Disclaimer: Alex Voorhees and Reston Wealth Management do not provide legal, accounting or tax advice. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor. Every individual situation is unique and a proper plan should be put in place before making a decision regarding Social Security. The Social Security Administration alone makes all final determinations on your eligibility for benefits and the benefit amounts.  You should consult with your local Social Security Office before acting upon any information provided. The opinions voiced in this article are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.