Terry, I am working in the corporate world making a comfortable salary. I am 58 years old so I am 8 years away from my full retirement benefit. I have a nice savings in my 401K account. If I “retire” early but want to work part time will my reduced earnings decrease my future monthly social security benefit?

Terry Says:  I hope you’ve done some work with a financial planner to consider the true costs of retiring early.  You’re actually likely to live another 30years, and encounter many additional costs along the way.  You should not be guessing at that!  And, you should definitely not plan  to collect Social Security before full retirement age, even though you could collect at age 62.  That permanent reduction in your benefit would be devastating — and any other income you might have could also reduce your benefit.

On re-reading your question, though, the amount of your benefit depends on the number of quarters you have worked as well as your retirement age and other income. By now, if you worked in a corporate job all of your adult life, you should have accumulated enough “quarters” of SS contributions to get the full benefit in effect for the age at which you retire.   Here’s a link to the brochure Social Security offers to explain how credits are earned.

Again, I suggest you go to www.feeonly.org — the association of fee-only financial planners and choose a Certified Financial Planner who can do the math with you to make sure you don’t run out of money before you run out of time!

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