Do you pay taxes on your Social Security benefits?

Hi there! I recently wrote a story about how a potential 10.5% Social Security cost-of-living-adjustment this year might impact your taxes.

Only about 40% of Social Security recipients pay taxes on their benefits. People who work in retirement or receive other sources of income are most likely to pay taxes on SS benefits.

If the government boosts people’s checks later this year, it might push some people into the taxable zone.

I’m curious, are there any Social Security beneficiaries here who pay taxes on their benefits? What’s your experience been like?


I am on Social Security, and I don’t currently pay taxes as I’ve reached my FRA. Prior to that, I did have to pay some years as I had exceeded their income limits. That’s some good news about getting older…I can now make as much as I want without being penalized?,


No social security is non-taxable.

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I’ve been on disability since 2001 and I have never paid taxes on mine, even though I held done a job for a couple years. I only paid on the wages I received. Social Security is not taxable income.

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Yes, I am one of those who pay taxes on my Social Security benefits, I make them take taxes out based on the percentage choice closest to my regular tax expectation since I started receiving my benefits at the end of 2015. I did it to avoid owing them anything because IRS doesn’t wait to be paid and does garnish Social Security check benefits immediately. Most of the time, I get most of it back, but in the last few years, the amount has decreased because I am getting close to the limit allowed in the breakdown. What galls me is that my total income before taxes (all retirement income–pension and social security together ) is barely $42,000 but after taxes, it is $36,500, out of which I have to pay all my bills (mostly necessity bills–housing, food, utility, and medical costs). Okay if I lived in a nice cheap area and didn’t have to pay any housing costs I would not be complaining, but I chose to stay where I am for personal reasons. I am trying to eliminate any and all debt to have more money after paying all my necessity bills.

It is ridiculous to expect seniors on fixed incomes, preset in 1985 “top pay” income of $25,000 to have to pay any taxes because they make a few dollars over that specific maximum, as I am not talking about high-income 6-figure retirement income. The cutoff maximum for deciding whether one pays taxes on retirement income needs to be upgraded to the 2022 income level which I believe is thought to be averaged at $80,000, which means any income under that is low income and should have a lower tax rate.

I am due to start my RMD of my extremely small 401 soon, and I dread to see how that will affect my taxes. I plan to have the taxes taken out prior to receiving any funds to avoid once again, IRS demands. Thankfully, I am exempt from state and local taxes in retirement and only have to deal with federal taxes.


Thank you all for sharing your experiences! Here is some additional context from my reporting that might be helpful, along with a few thoughts.

From the SS Administration: Some people who get Social Security must pay federal income taxes on their 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.

I agree with @maria.rose, that income limit for a single person is crazy. It’s only $34,000 for married couples living together, which is also really low, especially if the other spouse is still working.

But what exactly counts towards that income cap, or as the Social Security Administration calls it, “combined income”?

As according to the SSA itself:

Your adjusted gross income

  • Nontaxable interest
  • ½ of your Social Security benefits
    = Your “combined income”

If Social Security is your only source of income, nope you don’t have to pay taxes on your benefits.

But half of the income you receive from Social Security retirement or disability benefits does count as part of this weird government equation to calculate whether you’re required to pay taxes on your benefits.

Take home message: If you earn additional income outside SS over $25,000 as a single person or $32,000 as a married couple, you may have to pay taxes on your Social Security benefits.

Side note: SSI benefits are never taxable.

Finally, this is a really good resource from SSA:…t/planner/taxes.html

You may have based your information on an “average” benefit amount but every one does Not get the Average benefit amount because it is based on your highest average 35 years that you made enough units to qualify. Just like some people earn just enough to qualify or barely enough to qualify, there are people who earn higher or what is classified as the maximum amount based on the current cutoff income level that is taxed for Social Security which means that you will get a much higher benefit amount and anything over those ridiculous 1980s maximum income is going to be taxed by federal taxes and that’s before you do the weird calculations to determine what taxes you owe. And even if your state doesn’t tax your Social Security income, you will be required to file a tax form just for residency classification for voting privileges—I pay a fee to file my NYS tax forms which includes both the state and local taxes despite not needing to pay any taxes or receive any refunds. If I didn’t, I would have problems with anything NYS residence despite never traveling or living anywhere else.
Don’t assume that any of your retirement income will be not taxed, unless you are getting a very small benefit but even so you should file taxes every year to keep your records (address) updated at all the tax bureaus, just in case they decide to send you anything like those rebates sent in 2021.

thank you so much for the post i have learned a lot from you all