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If You Return To Work - Overview


Social Security encourages work by providing a Trial Work Period and an extension when you receive your full benefit in addition to what you earn. There are even certain benefits after the period runs out. To learn more, see Return to Work 101 - Overview.

Tell Social Security If You Work: Failure to inform Social Security of work activities can create all sorts of financial problems for you. As you may recall from when you first applied for Social Security benefits, Social Security can be slow to process the earnings and tax reports submitted to them, sometimes two or more years worth of slow. But it will catch up eventually -- and that can hurt, a lot.

You can inform Social Security of a return to work by telephone (1.800.772.1213) or in person. We prefer a visit to your local Social Security office where you can deliver a letter outlining your work activities (see sample letter) and receive a receipt in person to provide proof in case there's a problem later. Of course keep a copy of the letter and the written receipt in a safe place.

Once you have informed Social Security of your return to work, you have a good defense if you are paid in error and Social Security later demands a refund of Overpayments.

Social Security will ask you to complete a Work Activity Report, using different forms for employees and for self-employed people. In order to be ready for the reports keep track of all earnings that have payroll taxes deducted -- regardless of amount. A simple way to do this is to:

  • The best way to do this is to keep a chart like the Sample Chart To Track Income and Expenses, either the Employee or Self-Employed version.
  • At the least, keep all of your payroll check stubs, or a photocopy of your pay checks -- no matter how small or large.

When Social Security asks you to complete a Work Activity Report, see our helpful hints before completing them.

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