Social Security-questions and answers

by Social Security Administration

How can I get a form SSA-1099/1042S, Social Security Benefit Statement?

SSA-1099 is a tax form we mail each year in January to people who receive Social Security benefits. It shows the total amount of benefits you received from Social Security in the previous year so you know how much Social Security income to report to IRS on your tax return.

Using your online my Social Security account. If you don’t already have an account, you can create one online. Go to Sign In or Create an Account. Once you are logged in to your account, select the “Replacement Documents” tab;

Must I pay taxes on Social Security benefits?

Some people who get Social Security must pay federal income taxes on their benefits. But, no one pays taxes on more than 85 percent of their Social Security benefits.

You must pay taxes on your benefits if you file a federal tax return as an “individual” 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.

How do I earn Social Security credits and how many do I need to qualify for benefits?

We use your total yearly earnings to figure your Social Security credits. The amount needed for a credit in 2017 is $1,300. You can earn a maximum of four credits for any year. The amount needed to earn one-credit increases automatically each year when average wages increase.

You must earn a certain number of credits to qualify for Social Security benefits. The number of credits you need depends on your age when you apply and the type of benefit application. No one needs more than 40 credits for any Social Security benefit.

How do I apply for Social Security retirement benefits?

You should apply for retirement benefits three months before you want your payments to start. The easiest and most convenient way to apply for retirement benefits is by using our online application.

You can apply by phone – 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. or In person – Visit your local Social Security office (Call first to make an appointment.)

At what age should I start receiving my Social Security retirement benefits?

Choosing when to start receiving your Social Security retirement benefits is an important decision that affects your monthly benefit amount for the rest of your life.

You can start receiving your retirement benefit as early as age 62, or as late as age 70. If you claim it early, your monthly amount will be reduced. On the other hand, if you delay claiming your benefit, your monthly amount will be increased for each month of delay. These adjustments are permanent for the rest of your life.
The increases from delaying your benefit can be large. For example, a worker with a $1,000 benefit at her full retirement age of 66 would receive $750 a month if she starts her benefit at age 62, or $1,320 a month if she delays until age 70. Married couples have two lives to plan for. If you are the higher earner, delaying starting your retirement benefit means higher monthly benefits for the rest of your life and higher survivor protection for your spouse, if you die first.

Where can I go to find answers and general information quickly about Social Security’s programs and procedures?

You can visit our Frequently Asked Questions webpage located at us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; or

Contacting your local Social Security office.



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