Where Can I Find My Countable Self-Employment Earnings On My Tax Return?

Jun 20 2017 - 7:53am

My wife died in November of 2015. I'm now 60, birthday in November. I have made an appointment to speak with SS by phone on August 3 to apply for survivor benefits, I'm self employed and have questions about the earnings test. 1) what line on my tax return is used for the earnings test? Is it line 4 of the SE form? Or taxable income on line 43 of the 1040, which is much lower?
I'm in good health and plan to work till I'm 70 before collecting on my own benefits. Is it best to file early as I'm planning to do?
My other question is this: I anticipate a drop in income next year. If the income test determines a lower benefit based on a higher estimated income and I actually earn less next year, how does Social Security adjust for the difference? Thanks!


I'm sorry for your loss.

The countable amount for earnings test purposes is the net earnings subject to self-employment tax found on line 4 of the 2016 Schedule SE.

If your own retirement benefit rate is higher than your widower's rate, it's likely best to take your widower's benefits as soon as your earnings will permit payment of at least some benefits, and then switch to your own record at age 70. You may want to run the maximization software available on this website in order to make sure that you choose the best possible filing strategy.

Social Security initially withholds benefits based on your estimated earnings for the year. After the year is over and your actual earnings are known, you should report to Social Security so that they can either pay you any underpayment due, or calculate how much you were overpaid.

Best, Jerry