9 Things That Get Deducted From Your Social Security Payment

You should know what could come out of your Social Security benefits payment every month before your payment shocks you.

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Updated July 18, 2024
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As you consider when to retire and how much money you need to meet your financial obligations, it's critical to know what may be deducted from your Social Security check.

Without a plan in place before you retire, you may find it necessary to supplement your Social Security income by working longer or taking on a part-time job.

But don't get caught off guard. Here are the deductions you can expect out of your Social Security income payment.

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Medicare premiums

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Those collecting Social Security who are enrolled in Medicare will have Part B premium deductions from their Social Security payment. This is the component of your payment automatically deducted to cover your routine medical care and outpatient treatments.

In 2024, the standard rate for most people is $174.40 per month. This amount increases as income increases. For those who earn more than $103,000 but are under $129,000, the total monthly premiums are $244.60.

Work income if you’ve not reached full retirement age

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If you are not yet at full retirement age and you are receiving payments from Social Security but continue to work, you may pay additional fees if you do not pass the earnings test. The earnings test ensures that you are working more than is allowable under the law and still receive income. For 2024, that figure was $22,320.

If you worked and earned more than this amount, $1 for every $2 in earnings above the limit is deducted from your benefits for the year. That amount comes out of your Social Security payment.

Federal income taxes

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Some people receiving Social Security benefits, and have incomes above $25,000 as a single taxpayer or $32,000 for a couple filing jointly, may be subjected to federal taxes.

Keep in mind that, in these situations, you may be liable for federal taxes applied to up to 85% of your Social Security income, depending on your earnings. This is deducted from your payment each month, so you are not hit with one large payment at the end of the year.

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Voluntary income tax withholding

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In some situations, you may want to reduce the risk of having a big tax bill later on. If you decide to do so, you can have a specific portion of your earnings withheld voluntarily. You can choose the rate (7%, 10%, 12%, or 22%) and instruct the Social Security Administration to reduce your payment by that amount.

If you did not set this up right away when applying for benefits, you can update your account with the SSA at any time. To start voluntary income tax withholding, fill out IRS Form W-4V.

Overpayment of benefits

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If you receive more than you were supposed to receive in benefits, you may need to pay back those extra funds. For example, if you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) because of a very low income or have few assets and you are over the age of 65, numerous factors can knock you into overpayment status.

The value of the payment you receive is dependent on your living situation as well as your finances, including your income. If your circumstances change for any reason, you may be required to pay back those extra funds. The SSA can withhold up to 10% of your monthly payment to help you reimburse them.

Payment of appointed representative

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In some situations, you may have an administrative or federal court-level representative appointed to help you with various decisions or legal matters.

For example, if you need to have a representative appointed to you in a SSA matter, the SSA can withhold up to 25% of past-due benefits.

Government pension

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If you worked for an organization and did not pay Social Security taxes but still qualify for Social Security based on other work you did to contribute to the system, you may have to pay taxes.

Called the Windfall Elimination Provision, this rule can reduce benefits in some situations. It typically applies to local and state agencies not covered by Social Security, including police officers, firefighters, and teachers.

Back taxes

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In some situations, you may have to have back taxes withdrawn from your Social Security payment each month. Under the law, up to 15% of your benefit can be deducted to get you up to date on your taxes.

If you are behind in payments to the IRS, the agency can petition for some of your benefits payments to be held to pay toward the debts you owe.

Court-ordered payments

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If you are ordered by a court to make payments for specific debts, including child support and alimony, the court can arrange to have those funds automatically deducted from your Social Security benefits.

These payments may also include any court-ordered payments you must pay as restitution to victims of a crime you committed. Note that garnishments can range widely in terms of how much can be applied based on state laws.

Bottom line

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In every situation, you probably want to do your best to stretch your Social Security so that every dollar goes further. Yet, any number of these specific deductions from your monthly Social Security payment could lead to financial struggles if you don’t plan for them early on.

If you’re unsure what applies in your situation, your local Social Security office can offer some insight into what is being deducted from your check personally.

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Ellen Cannon

Ellen Cannon is an editor at FinanceBuzz. Her long editorial career began in magazines (Time, Entertainment Weekly, People in Australia, Bloomberg) and then moved online. She has been managing editor of Bankrate, editorial director of QuinStreet personal finance sites, and a staff writer covering credit cards at NerdWallet.