In my Jan. 4 column, I discussed why people nearing full retirement age and planning on retiring this year should contact us in January to avoid losing benefits they may be entitled to. Today I'm addressing those of you under full retirement age, who are working but contemplating retiring sometime during 2008.

The 2008 earnings limit is $13,560. If you're nearing or already age 62 and planning on retiring this year before you earn this amount, you should contact us before the end of January.

By contacting us before the end of January, you receive what we call "protective filing" for January even if your actual appointment isn't until after Jan. 31. This means that your effective application date will still be January and you would have the option starting your benefits as early as January.

My next topic is important for everyone already receiving benefits and gathering tax information. We will mail Social Security Benefit Statements for the 2007 tax year, Form SSA-1099, by Jan. 31. Social Security does not offer the option of viewing or downloading form SSA-1099 online. You won't be able to request a replacement SSA-1099 for the 2007 tax year until Feb. 1. If you have any questions about your SSA-1099, or if you need a Replacement SSA-1099 for the 2006 tax year or earlier, you may contact Social Security at the numbers below.

If you have questions, give us a call at (800) 772-1213 or 433-0171. Additional information is available at our website, www.ssa.gov, and you can now actually file for retirement benefits online as well.

Kemp Baratier is district manager for the Social Security Administration in Oneonta.

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