When you retire from a business you or your family own, and apply for retirement benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will decide if you are eligible for full or partial benefits. It can be more difficult for the SSA to determine if you qualify for full benefits than someone who drew a salary working for someone else.

I Am under the Full Retirement Age. How Do I Get My Full Retirement Benefits?

If you are under the full retirement age there are two ways to get all of your Social Security retirement benefits. You must:

  • Retire; or
  • Reduce your earnings below a specified level and reduce your involvement in the business so that it corresponds with your reduced earnings.

Will I Need to Provide the Social Security Administration with Any Documents?

The SSA may want additional documents, but it will depend on your situation. Some things the SSA will consider before asking for additional documents include:

  • If another family member is assuming some or all of your duties
  • If you continue to render services for the business at a reduced salary
  • You are in a position to control your earnings
  • You are still a part owner in the business or have stock in it

If you fall into one of those categories, the SSA will want additional information. For example:

  • Personal tax returns
  • Business tax returns
  • Stock transfer agreements

What Things Does the Social Security Administration Look for?

The SSA will look to see if your salary was reduced and you were compensated through other forms of payment, such as:

  • Increased dividends
  • Increase in salary to another family member without change of duties
  • Excessive rent
  • Unexplained business expenses

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Before applying for Social Security retirement benefits you may want to meet with a lawyer experienced in Social Security benefits and regulations. A lawyer can help you assemble the necessary application and documents. If you are denied benefits, or your benefits are not at the level you expected, an attorney can help you prepare an appeal.