Is Taxable Income Limited When A Person Receives SS Survivor Benefits?

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Jul 19 2019 - 7:48am

Is taxable income limited when a person receives SS Survivor benefits?

Example: Husband passes away at 40 with a 35 year old spouse and 3 kids. If the spouse begins working, will she lose her survivor benefit payments at a certain dollar amount?

Thank you for your time! This is a question that comes up frequently in a financial group I'm a part of and no one can find an answer online.

Hi,

Yes, in your example if the surviving spouse is under full retirement age and she works and earns too much, then her benefits could be withheld as a result of Social Security's earnings test (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking.html). It isn't all taxable income that's limited, though, just earned income (i.e. any combination of gross wages and net earnings from self-employment). And, regardless of how much the surviving spouse in your example earns, her earnings would have no adverse effect on her children's benefits.

Best, Jerry