March SSA Q & A
By Kirk Larson
Social Security Washington Public Affairs Specialist
I’m gathering everything I’ll need to file my taxes this month. Do I have to pay taxes on Social Security benefits? Also, where can I get a replacement 1099?
Some people who get Social Security must pay federal income taxes on their benefits. Still, no one pays taxes on more than 85 percent of their Social Security benefits.
You must pay taxes on some portion of your benefits if you file an individual federal tax return and your combined income exceeds $25,000. If you file a joint return, you must pay taxes if you and your spouse have combined income of more than $32,000. If you are married and file a separate return, you probably will have to pay taxes on your benefits. You can read more about tax preparation in relation to Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/taxes.htm. Social Security benefits include monthly retirement, survivor, and disability benefits. They don’t include Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, which are not taxable. You can also get a replacement 1099 or 1042S when you open your own personal my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.
My spouse died recently and my neighbor said my children and I might be eligible for survivors benefits. Don’t I have to be retirement age to receive benefits?
No. As a survivor, you can receive benefits at any age if you are caring for a child who is receiving Social Security benefits and who is under age 16. Your children are eligible for survivors benefits through Social Security up to age 19 if they are unmarried and attending elementary or secondary school full time. If you are not caring for minor children, you would need to wait until age 60 (age 50 if disabled) to collect survivors benefits. For more information about survivors benefits, read our publication Survivors Benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.
Will my military retirement affect my Social Security benefits?
No. You can get both Social Security benefits and military retirement. Generally, there is no offset of Social Security benefits because of your military retirement. You will get full benefits based on your earnings. The only way your Social Security benefit may be reduced is if you also receive a government pension based on a job in which you did not pay Social Security taxes. You can find more information in the publication Military Service and Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs. Or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
I'm retired and the only income I have is a monthly withdrawal from an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Are the IRA withdrawals considered "earnings?" Could they reduce my monthly Social Security benefits?
No. We count only the wages you earn from a job or your net profit if you're self-employed. Non-work income such as pensions, annuities, investment income, interest, capital gains and other government benefits are not counted and will not affect your Social Security benefits. For more information, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov or call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
I was wounded while on military service overseas. What are the benefits for wounded warriors, and how can I apply?
Through the Wounded Warrior program, Social Security expedites processing of disability claims of current military service members or veterans disabled while on active duty on or after October 1, 2001. Also, service members and veterans who have a Veterans Administration compensation rating of 100% Permanent and Total (P&T) may receive expedited processing of applications for Social Security disability benefits. Keep in mind, this expedited process applies to only the application for benefits. To be eligible for benefits, you must meet Social Security’s strict definition of “disability,” which means:
• You must be unable to do substantial work because of your medical condition(s); and
• Your medical condition(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least one year or to result in death.
You can apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability or call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
You can find more information for veterans at www.socialsecurity.gov/people/veterans.