Making a smart choice about when to take Social Security is crucial, as your decision can affect your finances for the rest of your life. But some people don't realize that if they take early Social Security benefits before they stop working entirely, they can end up forfeiting some of what they receive from the government.

In the following video, host Alison Southwick interviews Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, to learn more about how working can cut what you receive from Social Security. Dan notes that only people who have started taking early benefits but haven't reached their full retirement age need to worry, as anyone who has reached full retirement age can take their benefits without fear of forfeiting any of them no matter how much they work. But if you're younger than full-retirement age, you can lose $1 in Social Security benefits for every $2 you make above $15,120. For those who reach full-retirement age this year, higher limits apply, with the potential to lose $1 for every $3 you make above $40,080.

Dan continues by explaining that family members who receive benefits also have to pay attention to the limitations, as both their wages and the wages of the person on whose work history they're receiving benefits can come into play to cause reductions. Dan concludes that in general, it's smarter to wait until you've fully retired or reach full retirement age before starting to take Social Security in order to avoid the entire possibility of losing benefits.

Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.