Q. A person who received reduced benefits before his full retirement age can earn up to $17,640 in 2019. Is that figure net income, or adjusted gross income after deducting an IRA contribution or small business expenses?

A. The earnings limitation provision of law requires the Social Security Administration to count as earned income the net income reported on Internal Revenue Form SE and/or total earnings as reported on an employer W-2 report of wages. These earnings are not reduced by contributing to an IRA.