Are Social Security Benefits Taxable
If you have a lot of income from other sources, up to 85% of your Social Security benefits will be considered taxable income. If the combination of your Social Security benefits and other income is below $25,000, your benefits wonât be taxed at all. The amount of your benefits that is subject to taxes is calculated on a sliding scale based on your income. Money that Social Security recipients pay in income taxes on their benefits goes back into funding Social Security and Medicare.
If your retirement income is high enough that your benefits are taxable, how do you pay those benefits? You can ask Social Security for an IRS Voluntary Withholding Request Form if youâd like the government to withhold taxes from your Social Security benefits. Otherwise, youâre expected to file quarterly tax returns to pay these taxes over the course of the year.
That covers federal income taxes. What about state income taxes? That depends. In 13 states, your Social Security benefits will be taxed as income, either in whole or in part the remaining states do not tax Social Security income.
Social Security Income Limit 2021
Note: The Social Security earnings limit changes each year. The most current version of this article uses numbers for 2021.
At one of my first speaking engagements, I heard a great story from one of the attendees. Her experience provides us with one of the best examples Ive ever heard of how much the Social Security income limit can catch you by surprise.
A few years earlier, shed been at her bridge club when the topic turned to Social Security. As she and the other card players chatted about the best way to leverage Social Security Benefits, the consensus around the table seemed to be that filing at 62 was the smartest thing to do.
This lady, trusting the advice of some of her closest friends, did just that: She filed for benefits as soon as she turned 62.
She then told me shed always wanted to buy a brand-new Toyota Camry. She figured that, once she started receiving Social Security income, it would be the perfect time to buy the car. She was still working, which meant her Social Security check would be extra income.
As she told the story to me, she bought the car and took out a car loan to do it. She planned to repay the loan using some of the income she expected to receive from her Social Security benefits since she filed for them.
Imagine her surprise, then, when a nasty letter from Social Security Administration showed up in her mailbox. The letter claimed she had been paid benefits that she was not eligible for!
When Can I Start Collecting Social Security
The minimum age to claim benefits is 62. If you are turning 62 and need the income from Social Security to support yourself, then you can start claiming your benefits now. However, if you have enough other income to keep you going until you are older, you may want to delay increasing the size of your monthly benefit.
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Calculating Social Security Payments
- How much you made in your pre-retirement life even earnings after retiring from a job can lead to an increased Social Security benefit.
- How long you are willing or able to wait before collecting
Social Security benefits are based on lifetime earnings, which are then adjusted to account for changes in average wages since the money was first earned. Then your average indexed monthly earnings are calculated using your 35 highest-earning years. From this figure, comes your basic benefit.
Its impossible to predict exactly how much youll receive from Social Security when you retire because the government can adjust the level of benefits. However, if you are curious about how much you might receive from Social Security, the government offers a quick calculator that will give you a rough estimate. Results are based on your current earnings and birth date. You can view the results in todays dollars or inflated future dollars.
For 2021, the SSA expects to pay a maximum benefit of $3,895 per month to retirees who delayed their benefits until age 70 and who earned maximum taxable earnings since age 22.
For example, based on the SSAs calculator, a person who plans to retire at age 70 in January 2025 after earning roughly $100,000 per year could receive an estimated monthly benefit of $3,121.
How To Increase Your Social Security Benefits
If you’re so not thrilled with what you can expect to receive that you’re about to tear into a half-gallon of ice cream, hold on. The size of your benefit checks is, to a meaningful degree, under your control. Here are some ways to increase your Social Security benefits:
Delay starting to collect your benefits. The longer you delay, until age 70, the bigger your checks will be. This strategy is best for those who expect to live longer-than-average lives, though. For those with average or shorter-than-average life spans, starting as early as possible, at age 62, is generally best. After all, you may receive smaller checks, but you’ll receive many more of them.
Work at least 35 years. The formula used to compute your benefits is based on your earnings in the 35 years in which you earned the most money . If you only earned income in 26 years, the formula will be incorporating nine zeros, which will shrink your benefits considerably. Even if you have worked 35 years, if you’re currently earning much more than you have in the past , you might consider working for another year or two, as each high-earning year will kick a low-earning year out of the calculation, boosting your benefits.
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Is My Social Security Income Taxable The Quick Answer
According to the IRS, the quick way to see if you will pay taxes on your Social Security income is to take one half of your Social Security benefits and add that amount to all your other income, including tax-exempt interest. This number is known as your combined income .
If your combined income is above a certain limit , you will need to pay at least some tax.
The limit is $25,000 if you are a single filer, head of household or qualifying widow or widower with a dependent child. The limit for joint filers is $32,000. If you are married filing separately, you will likely have to pay taxes on your Social Security income.
How Much Does Social Security Pay At 65
The amount Social Security pays older adults partly depends on the wages a senior earned while working. The amount you get each month is also influenced by the age when you first sign up for retirement benefits. As a rule, your benefits get closer to the federal award cap the more youve earned from work and the later you sign up for a Social Security pension.
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Claiming Social Security At Age 70
If you are able to delay claiming your Social Security benefit until you reach age 70, you will earn a significantly higher benefit. After your Full Retirement Age of 66 , your benefit goes up by eight percent each year. Consequently, if your full retirement benefit at age 66 was $1,000 per month, and you delay claiming your benefit, it will be $1,080 per month by age 67 or an additional $960 per year. If you delay until age 70, it will be 124 percent of your expected benefit or $1,240 a month. That comes out to $2,880 more each year.
Delaying past age 70 will not increase your benefit, however.
Tips For Saving On Taxes In Retirement
- Finding a qualified financial advisor doesnt have to be hard. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesnt have to be hard. SmartAssets free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors in your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If youre ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- What you pay in taxes during your retirement will depend on how retirement friendly your state is. So if you want to decrease tax bite, consider moving to a state with fewer taxes that affect retirees.
- Another way to save in retirement is to downsize your home. Moving into a smaller home could lower your property taxes and it could also lower your other housing costs.
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No More File And Suspend
Note that the claiming strategy called file and suspend, which allowed married couples who have reached their FRA to receive spousal benefits and delayed retirement credits at the same time, ended as of May 1, 2016. However, spouses born before Jan. 2, 1954, who have attained their FRA may still be able to file a restricted application. It allows them to claim spousal benefits while delaying their own benefits up to age 70.
Social Security benefits can be taxable if your combined income is high enough.
How Social Security Benefits Are Calculated
Qualifying for Social Security in the first place requires 40 work credits or approximately 10 years of work. To be eligible to receive the maximum benefit, you need to earn Social Securitys maximum taxable income for 35 years. The cap, which is the amount of earnings subject to Social Security tax, is $147,000 in 2022, up from $142,800 in 2021.
Social Security benefits are calculated by combining your 35 highest-paid years . First, all wages are indexed to account for inflation. Wages from previous years are multiplied by a factor based on the years in which they were earned. This calculation gives an amount comparable to buying power based on the current value of the dollar. Accounting for this valuation change is important because a salary of $14,000, for example, was far more impressive in 1954 than it is today.
Once all wages have been indexed, your average indexed monthly earnings is computed by dividing the sum of all indexed wages by 420 . If you worked fewer than 35 years, a zero is entered for years you did not work. The benefit amount is then calculated based on factors that include the year in which collection begins, whether you have reached FRA, and whether you continue to work while collecting benefits.
Once you reach age 70 there is no reason to wait longer to start collecting as your benefit won’t increase further.
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How Returning To Work Can Impact Pensions
Returning to work after retiring may affect your pension.
Each pension is different, so its important to look at your plans details.
Sometimes, you must be rehired as a part-time or contract worker if you want to work for your former employer and still receive pension benefits.
Other times, returning to work for a former employer will suspend your pension benefits.
You can usually still collect a pension and work full-time so long as its with a different company.
Check with your human resources department and your pension plan provider first to understand any potential penalties.
Determine Your Primary Insurance Amount
To calculate your actual Social Security retirement amount, youll need to factor in something called bend points. These points are based on three separate percentages of your average indexed monthly earnings, set by law. For 2021, your PIA will be the total of:
- 90 percent of the first $996 of your earnings plus
- 32 percent of your average earnings between $996 and $6,002 plus
- 15 percent of your average earnings over $6,002
If the total above is not a multiplier of $.10, the SSA will round down the amount to the next-lowest multiplier of $.10. The SSA sets a maximum amount available to recipients each month, and this amount can vary from one year to the next. For 2021, someone filing at age 70 can receive up to $3,895 a month, while someone filing at full retirement age caps out at $3,148. If you begin filing at age 62 in 2021, your benefit may be reduced to as low as $2,203 per month.
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What Are The Maximum Amounts That You Can Get
The average Social Security retirement benefit in 2021 is $1,565 a month but will be quite a bit higher in 2022 due to the cost-of-living-adjustment 2022 announced on Wednesday. Beneficiaries will see a 5.9 percent increase in the monthly payments kicking the average up to $1,657, or an increase of $92.
If you turn 62 next year, you can start to claim benefits after you have been 62 for a full month. The maximum you could expect to earn is $2,461 after the increase in 2022. However, starting retirement early may limit the amount that you can get since you will be receiving them for a longer period of time.
If you wait until you reach full retirement age , the maximum that you could receive is $3,334 after the correction for the COLA 2022. Full retirement age for those born in 1955 is 66 years and 2 months. For those born in each subsequent year you need to add two months per year until those born in 1960 and after reach full retirement age when they turn 70.
Currently, those who turn 70 in 2022 could see their maximum potential benefit go up to $4,220. You can check your own estimated monthly benefits using the Social Security Administration online calculator tool. You will need to know your annual income for the past 35 years or use an estimate.
If Your Income Changes
Your income may change due to several factors. Find out how to determine your income.
Contact us if you or your spouse or common-law partner has a lower annual income due to retirement or if other pension benefits are reduced or stopped.
In these cases, we can set your benefit payment by estimating your income for the current year instead of using last years income.
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Calculating Average Indexed Monthly Earnings
The caveat to calculating an average of a workers highest 35 years of historical earnings is that in the distant past, earnings were typically lower not just because the worker might have been earlier in his/her career, but simply because inflation lifts average wages over time . For instance, the chart below is an example of one worker’s hypothetical historical earnings, with a high point in the early years but in general a slow upward trend to earnings over time.
Accordingly, when Social Security determines the 35-year average of earnings, it first inflation-adjusts those earnings into current dollars using the National Average Wage Index. Technically, this is done by inflation-indexing all historical earnings into a base year that was 2 years before the individual turned 62 and first became eligible for benefits. Thus, a 62-year-old in 2016 will have historical earnings inflation-adjusted to the 2014 wage index in general, Social Security benefits are indexed to wage levels 2 years before becoming eligible at age 62, which means indexed to the individuals age 60. This ensures that benefits based on historical average wage calculation isnt indirectly reduced simply due to the fact that wage inflation hadnt yet occurred in the past.
Once inflation-adjusted earnings have been calculated throughout all the working years, its possible to determine which were the highest 35 years of earnings that will be included in the Social Security benefits calculation .
Calculating Your Social Security Income Tax
If your Social Security income is taxable, the amount you pay in tax will depend on your total combined retirement income. However, you will never pay taxes on more than 85% of your Social Security income. If you file as an individual with a total income thats less than $25,000, you wont have to pay taxes on your Social Security benefits in 2021, according to the Social Security Administration.
For the 2021 tax year, single filers with a combined income of $25,000 to $34,000 must pay income taxes on up to 50% of their Social Security benefits. If your combined income was more than $34,000, you will pay taxes on up to 85% of your Social Security benefits.
For married couples filing jointly, you will pay taxes on up to 50% of your Social Security income if you have a combined income of $32,000 to $44,000. If you have a combined income of more than $44,000, you can expect to pay taxes on up to 85% of your Social Security benefits.
If 50% of your benefits are subject to tax, the exact amount you include in your taxable income will be the lesser of either a) half of your annual Social Security benefits or b) half of the difference between your combined income and the IRS base amount.
The example above is for someone who is paying taxes on 50% of his or her Social Security benefits. Things get more complicated if youre paying taxes on 85% of your benefits. However, the IRS helps taxpayers by offering software and a worksheet to calculate Social Security tax liability.
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In A Rush To File For Social Security Benefits At Age 62 Many People Are But Slow Down And Do The Math First Or You Might Regret It
When it comes to claiming Social Security retirement benefits, you may want to consider waiting to start benefits when youre 70.
That means not starting benefits when youre 62 , nor even full retirement age .
I know that starting benefits at age 70 might be a tough thing to reconcile with but it doesnt mean that you have to work until youre 70.
Here are three reasons why delaying taking your Social Security benefit to age 70 is a decision you may want to consider: