Q. I want to begin benefits in August. How much can I work and earn while drawing SS benefits?

A. In the first year of retirement – and in that year alone – a monthly earnings test is used. The monthly test is 1/12th of the annual amount ($1,470 in 2019 for those under full retirement age). After benefits begin, no benefit whatsoever is payable for any month that earnings exceed the monthly limit. The monthly test permits retirement benefits to begin in mid-year without regard to how much is earned before benefits begin. Even in the first year of retirement, the annual test can be used if it permits more months of benefits to be paid. If the annual test is used, all earnings for the year must be considered.