Social Security and retirement are linked in most people's heads. But you can start receiving Social Security before you retire -- as long as you're careful about navigating the rules involved.

In the latest installment of our Social Security Q&A video series, Dan Caplinger, the Motley Fool's director of investment planning, takes a question from Allen, who notes that his wife wants to start taking early Social Security benefits while still working and put the proceeds directly into a retirement account. Dan goes through the pros and cons of the plan, running through the conditions under which workers can have some of their early Social Security benefits forfeited if they make more than $15,480 in annual wages. Dan then evaluates the benefits and problems with the plan, with the trade-off of getting a longer time period to invest versus accepting smaller monthly payments. Dan concludes that the tax benefits of retirement accounts can outweigh the negatives of lower benefits, but the situation depends significantly on individual factors such as life expectancy.