By Vonda VanTil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist
Question: I was speaking with my sister and she told me that she receives half of her spouse’s benefit. Why am I not eligible for benefits from my spouse?
Answer: If your spouse is eligible for Social Security benefits, you could be eligible for one-half of their benefit at your full retirement age. However, if you worked and are eligible for Social Security benefits on your own record, your own benefit may be higher than what you could be eligible for on your spouse’s record. If you have questions regarding your eligibility for benefits, please call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Question: I’m reaching my full retirement age and thinking about retiring early next year. When is the best time of year to apply for Social Security benefits?
Answer: You can apply as early as four months before when you want your monthly benefits to begin. To apply, just go to www.socialsecurity.gov/applytoretire. Applying online for retirement benefits from the convenience of your home or office is secure and can take as little as 15 minutes. It’s so easy!
Question: 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?
Answer: 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 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, survivors, 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.
I noticed that my date of birth in Social Security’s records is wrong. How do I get that corrected?
To change the date of birth shown on our records, take the following steps:
- Complete an Application For A Social Security Card (Form SS-5);
- Show us documents proving:
- S. citizenship (if you have not previously established your citizenship with us);
- Age; and
- Identity; then
- Take (or mail) your completed application and documents to your local Social Security office.
Note that all documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. For details on the documents, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ss5doc.
Vonda VanTil is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.