Q. I would like to collect Social Security. I’m 63 but I am told I can only earn 17,000/yr. Why do they have the right to tell me how much I can earn? I don’t want any more than I am entitled to. The money in there is mine.

A. Social Security is intended to replace earnings lost by retirement, disability or death. The annual Social Security earnings limitation is a rough measure as to whether an applicant for retirement benefits has actually retired. Beginning with the month full retirement age is reached, full benefits can be paid regardless of earnings.

If you expect your annual earnings to exceed the limitation but would like to receive some months of benefits, the best time is to apply for benefits to begin is January. Provide the Social Security Administration your best estimate of earnings for the year. The Social Security Administration will determine how many months of benefits are payable based on your earnings estimate. If you continue working, benefits will cease at the beginning of the following year. Based on your new estimate of annual earnings, benefits will resume when they are again payable.

The annual earnings limitation rises each year in keeping with the rise of wages in the economy. The general limitation for 2019 is $17,640. A higher limitation applies the year full retirement age is reached. The higher limitation for 2019 is $46,920. Beginning with the month full retirement age is reached, a benefit is payable regardless of earnings.