You will have to pay federal taxes on your Social Security benefits if you file a federal tax return as an individual and your total income is more than $25,000. If you file a joint return, you will have to pay taxes if you and your spouse have a total income of more than $32,000.

Use the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Notice 703 shown on the back of the Social Security Benefit Statement, SSA Form 1099, to determine if any of your benefits may be taxable.

Social Security has no authority to withhold state or local taxes from your benefit. Many states and local authorities do not tax Social Security benefits. However, you should contact your state or local taxing authority for more information.

If you applied for benefits, you can check the status of your application online.

Your application status shows:

  • The date the Adminstration received your application
  • Any requests for additional documents
  • The address of the office processing your application
  • If a decision has been made.

If you receive an error, it may be because:

  • You entered an incorrect Social Security number or confirmation number
  • You did not complete the application
  • A final decision on your application was made more than four months ago

If anything prevents you from checking your application status online, call the Administration at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

If you live outside the United States, refer to Service Around the World.

The maximum benefit depends on the age a worker chooses to retire. For example, for a worker retiring at age 66 in 2015, the amount is $2,663. This figure is based on earnings at the maximum taxable amount for every year after age 21.

The amount you can earn while receiving Social Security depends on your age. Your earnings in (and after) the month you reach full retirement age will not affect your Social Security benefits. However, your benefit is reduced if your earnings exceed certain limits for the months before you reach your full retirement age.

If you are under full retirement age for the entire year:

  • You can earn $15,640 gross wages or net self-employment a year and not lose any benefits in 2015.
  • The Administration will deduct $1 in benefits for every $2 earned above $15,720.

In the year you reach full retirement age:

  • You can earn $41,880 gross wages or net self-employment prior to the month you reach full retirement age and not lose any benefits in 2015.
  • The Administration will deduct $1 in benefits for every $3 earned above $41,880.

The same earnings limits apply to a spouse or child who works and receives benefits on your record. You should report earnings for any months and years prior to full retirement age.

Retirement Earnings Test Calculator to get an estimate of the effect of your earnings on your benefits.

If you work outside the United States, refer to Your Payments While Outside The United States.

A person can receive benefits as a divorced spouse on a former spouse’s Social Security record if he or she:

  • Was married to the former spouse for at least 10 years
  • Is at least age 62 years old
  • Is unmarried
  • Is not entitled to a higher Social Security benefit on his or her own record.

In addition, the former spouse must be entitled to receive his or her own retirement or disability benefit. If the former spouse is eligible for a benefit, but has not yet applied for it, the divorced spouse can still receive a benefit if he or she meets the eligibility requirements above and has been divorced from the former spouse for at least two years.

Generally, the Administration cannot pay benefits if the divorced spouse remarries someone other than the former spouse, unless the latter marriage ends (whether by death, divorce, or annulment), or the marriage is to a person entitled to certain types of Social Security auxiliary or survivor’s benefits.

A person can receive benefits as a surviving divorced spouse on the Social Security record of a former spouse who died fully insured, if he or she:

  • Is at least age 60, or age 50 and disabled
  • Was married to the former spouse for at least 10 years
  • Is not entitled to a higher Social Security benefit on his or her own record

If the surviving divorced spouse age 60 or over applying for benefits remarried after age 60, or after age 50 and at the time of remarriage was entitled to disability benefits, the Administration disregards the marriage. If a person is already entitled to benefits as an aged or disabled surviving divorced spouse and remarries, benefits continue regardless of the person’s age at the time of remarriage.

The benefits paid to a divorced spouse or a surviving divorced spouse will not affect the benefit amount paid to other family members who receive benefits on the same record.

If you would like to receive an estimate of benefits you may receive as a divorced spouse or a surviving divorced spouse, you may contact representatives at 1-800-772-1213. They may be able to provide you with this information over the telephone. If you prefer, you may visit one of the Administration offices. You can get the address and directions to your nearest office from the Social Security Office Locator that is available on the Internet.

A spouse receives one-half of the retired worker’s full benefit unless the spouse begins collecting benefits before full retirement age. If the spouse begins collecting benefits before full retirement age, the amount of the spouse’s benefit is reduced by a percentage based on the number of months before he/she reaches full retirement age.

For example, based on the full retirement age of 66, if a spouse begins collecting benefits:

  • At age 65, the benefit amount would be about 46 percent of the retired worker’s full benefit
  • At age 64, it would be about 42 percent
  • At age 63, 37.5 percent
  • At age 62, 35 percent

However, if a spouse is taking care of a child who is either under age 16 or disabled and receives Social Security benefits, a spouse will get full benefits, regardless of age.

If you are eligible for both your own retirement benefit and for benefits as a spouse, the Administration will always pay you benefits based on your record first. If your benefit as a spouse is higher than your retirement benefit, you will receive a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse’s benefits.

You can apply for Social Security retirement benefits when you are at least 61 years and 9 months of age and want your benefits to start in the next three months. Even if you are not ready to retire, you still should sign up for Medicare three months before your 65th birthday.

The Social Security number followed by one of these codes is often referred to as a claim number. The Administration assigns these codes once you apply for benefits. These letter codes may appear on correspondence you receive from Social Security or on your Medicare card. They will never appear on a Social Security card.

For example, if the wage earner applying for benefits and your number is 123-45-6789, then your claim number is 123-45-6789A. This number will also be used as your Medicare claim number, once you are eligible for Medicare.

MedicareChart

NOTE: This list is not complete, but shows the most common beneficiary codes.

Report the death by calling toll free, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Please have the deceased person’s Social Security number when you call.

In addition to reporting the death to Social Security, you should:

  • Notify the bank or other financial institution of the beneficiary’s death.
  • Request the bank or other financial institution return any funds received for the month of death or thereafter.

*Do not cash any checks received for the month in which the beneficiary died or any checks received thereafter. Return any un-cashed checks to your local field office.

If your pension is from work where you paid Social Security taxes, it will not affect the amount of your Social Security benefit. However, if any part of your pension is from work where you did not pay Social Security taxes, it could affect the amount of your Social Security benefit.

A pension based on work that is not covered by Social Security (for example, Federal civil service and some State or local government agencies, such as police officers and some teachers) may cause the amount of your Social Security benefit to be reduced. Your benefit can be reduced based on one of two provisions:

  • The first provision, called Government Pension Offset (GPO), applies only if you receive a government pension not covered by Social Security and are eligible for Social Security benefits as a spouse or widow(er). Under this provision, the Administration may reduce your Social Security benefit as a spouse or widow(er). See our GPO page for more information; and
  • The second provision, called the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), affects how the Administration calculates your Social Security retirement or disability benefits if you receive a pension from work not covered by Social Security. See ourWEP page for more information.