Dear Harry: I am having a problem with my local Social Security office. I worked after the early retirement age of 62. As a result, I had to return about 90 percent of my SS since my earnings were more than the maximum allowed. When I reached full retirement age, I asked my local SS office to adjust my SS, and I was told that my payment was going to be lower than "normal" because I got those early payments. I looked up the SS manual and it said: If you are younger than full retirement age and some of your benefits are withheld because your earnings are more than $12,960, there is good news. When you reach full retirement age, your benefits will be increased to take into account those months in which you received no benefit or reduced benefits, The people at my SS office said that this only applied if I had to return all of my benefits during that period. What's going on here?

What Harry says: I think you read the manual correctly. It is quite clear about " . . . or reduced benefits." To make sure that we were not missing something, I got a reply to my Internet inquiry that confirmed our position. Try your local office again, and ask for a supervisor if necessary. For those readers who have questions on SS benefits, the Web address is www.socialsecurity.gov Incidentally, that maximum-earnings allowance was $13,560 for 2008 and is $14,160 for 2009. *

Write Harry Gross c/o the Daily News, 400 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19130. Harry urges all his readers to give blood - contact the American Red Cross at 800-GIVE LIFE.