Retirement Insurance Benefits - Benefit Amount - Earnings Tests - Monthly Earnings Test

Monthly Earnings Test

The MET can be used only in certain years, under certain conditions. In order for the MET to be applied to any given year, that year must first be considered a grace year, which requires that it either be the first year in which the beneficiary is entitled to benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, during a year in which there was at least one month in which the beneficiary was not entitled to Title II benefits, or a year in which the beneficiaries entitlement to Title II benefits was terminated for reasons other than death. The grace year must also include at least one non-service month, which is any month in which the beneficiary neither earns wages over the monthly exempt amount nor performs substantial services in self-employment. Services are considered substantial in self-employment if they consist of over 45 hours in a single month or 15 hours if it is a "highly skilled occupation."

The monthly exempt amount is 1/12 of the yearly exempt amount for that year. For first tier beneficiaries, the monthly exempt amount is $1,130 and $3,010 for second tier beneficiaries for 2008.

The MET is helpful for beneficiaries who retire in the middle of the year and who would be penalized for earlier earnings under the AET.

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