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Annual Report of Earnings

Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at

1814. Annual Report of Earnings

1814.1 Who must file an annual report of earnings?

You must file an annual report of earnings if you are:

  1. A Social Security beneficiary (unless you are entitled to benefits because you are disabled); or

  2. Receiving benefits on a beneficiary's behalf, if the beneficiary:

    1. Was entitled to Social Security benefits for the taxable year;

    2. Had not reached FRA in or before the first month of entitlement in that year;

    3. Had total earnings (wages and net earnings from self-employment) more than the yearly exempt amount; and

    4. Did not have all benefits withheld in the year for all entitlement months in which he or she was under FRA.

1814.2 Who is NOT required to file an annual report of earnings?

You do not have to file an annual report for a taxable year that you (or the beneficiary on whose behalf you are receiving benefits) were not paid any benefits because of work and high earnings.

1814.3 What happens if you are required to file an annual report and you fail to do so?

If you do not file an annual report or other information showing that benefits are payable for that year, benefits that might otherwise have been payable may not be paid after three years, three months and 15 days after the close of the taxable year. Be sure to file your report within the time limit in §1815.

1814.4 What type of information qualifies as an annual report?

In 1997, we changed our rules so that, for reports due on or after April 15, 1997, we may accept the W-2 information reported by your employer. If you are self- employed, the self-employment tax information you file with the IRS is acceptable. We use the information in those reports along with other pertinent information on our records to adjust your benefits under the earnings test.

You may still report your earnings to us if you want to have your benefits adjusted sooner. Otherwise, we will adjust benefits based on the earnings posted to your record.

1814.5 Who is responsible for the accuracy of the amount of earnings posted to your record?

We notify you of the amount of earnings used to adjust your benefits. However, you have the primary responsibility to ensure that the adjustment to your benefits was based on the correct amount of earnings. Be sure to notify us promptly if the earnings used were not correct for deduction purposes.

Last Revised: Jan. 17, 2003


Recent Content

Common Mistakes About Social Security

A recent poll found about half of respondents made mistakes on the following :

1. Retirement benefits will not be reduced if I claim at age 65 => FALSE. Full retirement age is rising.

2. A spouse can receive Social Security even if they have no earnings history => TRUE

3. If my spouse dies, that will have no effect on my Social Security payment => FALSE

4. Social Security benefits depend only on my earnings history, not when I claim => FALSE

Four Common Social Security Claiming Mistakes

1. Not knowing your full retirement age (FRA). 'Full benefit' retirement age is rising beyond age 65 to age 67.

2. Not knowing you can file for benefits three months in advance of receiving income

3. Forgetting Social Security benefits can be subject to income tax.

4. Thinking early filers can later receive 'full benefits'. If filing early, your benefits are permanently reduced.

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