Social Security When You Are Self-Employed

man and woman cooking Most people who pay into Social Security work for an employer. Their employer deducts Social Security taxes from their paycheck, matches that contribution, sends taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and reports wages to Social Security. However, self-employed people must report their earnings and pay their Social Security taxes directly to the IRS. These taxes will help determine your eligibility for benefits later.

You’re self-employed if you operate a trade, business, or profession, either by yourself or as a partner. You report your earnings for Social Security purposes when you file your federal income tax return. If your net earnings are $400 or more in a year, you must report your earnings on Schedule SE, in addition to the other tax forms you must file.

Net earnings for Social Security are your gross earnings from your trade or business, minus your allowable business deductions and depreciation. Some income doesn’t count for Social Security and shouldn’t be included in figuring your net earnings.

You can read more about self-employment, paying your Social Security taxes and figuring and reporting your net earnings by reading If You Are Self-Employed.

Social Security has been a cornerstone of American security for over 80 years. As a self-employed person, your small business is another cornerstone in the foundation of our economy. Working together, we make this nation stronger.

We’re here for you, securing today and tomorrow. Remember, the most convenient way to contact us anytime, anywhere is to visit our website.



49 thoughts on “Social Security When You Are Self-Employed

  1. Can I get any type of SS help if I’m a home caregiver for a 90 year old mother. I can’t work because she has dementia and has to have someone with her constantly.

  2. Why am I not qualified on my husbands SS account? I know I don’t qualify on mine because I worked for FEDS x 40 yrs as CSRS. Hubbys name Gary L. Olson; SSN *** – ** – ***. Thanks. I have tried applying on line n come up with a fat zero!!!

    • Hello Linda. A pension based on work that is not covered by Social Security (for example, Federal civil service and some State or local government agencies) may affect the amount of your Social Security benefits.
      Your benefits can be affected based on one of two provisions. Your own Social Security benefit can be reduced based on the Windfall Elimination Provision. The Government Pension Offset can affect your benefits as spouse or Widow.
      Just a reminder – We do not have access to personal information in this venue. Please be cautious about posting personal information on social media channels. Thanks!

  3. I have a small business which is basically myself and one part-time helper. I was told that the IRS takes out for my social when I do my annual taxes. However, I am not sure I obtain the correct information. Just trying to establish what to do. Do I need to start paying Social Security separate? I am unsure what to do at this point, and I would really appreciate advice on what action to take to make sure I am doing the right thing. TAHANKS so much!

  4. I have tried for about two weeks to get through to your representative(s).
    The reason is that I have forgotten my security info and password for access into your program. My user name is BWUSMCRET. My social number is *** – ** – ***-A. Can someone help me? I have tried until I’m convinced that I cannot satisfy your machine regarding my info and cannot talk to a rep due to lines being busy or not enough staff to answer phones in a timely manner. Last call was 64 minutes waiting time!! AS you may be able to tell, I am frustrated!!!!
    My email address is

    Any Help would be greatly appreciated.

    Bill Weaver

    • Hi Bill: We are very sorry to hear you are having difficulties with your my Social Security account and understand your frustration. See our Frequently Asked Questions web page for information on how to retrieve or change your password.

      If you encounter a problem, you may call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. At the voice prompt, say “helpdesk”.

  5. What do I do if my email address is to long for the iPad answer sheet? How do I find out if I have a new Doc? I don’t know what I’m doing.

  6. Nice information and thanks for sharing your blog. I Have carefully read your information and I got a lot of information about your blog which is based on the subject of “Social Security when you are self-employed”.

    • Thank you! Your thoughts are important to us and we’re pleased when feedback is positive. Your satisfaction is our reward.

  7. I am coming up on 24 months of disability and I do not have my Medicare card and my expensive as all get out cobra is going to expire. Do the automatically send it or do I have to go apply?

    • Hello James. You will receive Medicare after you receive disability benefits for 24 months. We start counting the 24 months from the month you were entitled to receive disability, not the month when you received your first check.
      Medicare will automatically mail your card to the address you have on file with Social Security. As long as your address is up to date, there’s nothing you need to do.
      For further assistance, call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thanks!

    • Thank you for contacting us, Robert. Sorry to hear about the difficulties you are experiencing with stopping your federal tax withholding. Unfortunately, and because of security reasons, we do not have access to personal records in this blog and cannot assist you.

      Please continue working with your local office. You can request to speak with the manager to see how we can help to expedite resolution of your situation.

  8. I was denied my back pay, because my ex boyfriend was mad and talked to social security on phone told that he gave me more money than he did. No proof just his word over phone. No documentation. He said he didnt know it was going to affect my money, he just guessed and threw out a number. Is there anything i can do?

    • Hello Crystal. Unfortunately, but for security reasons, we do not have access to personal records in this blog. Please continue working with your local office. If you are unable to visit the local office, you can call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213, representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Generally, you will have a shorter wait time if you call later in the week. Thanks.

  9. Me and my son’s father were together for eight years unmarried my son is 6 years old now 2 weeks ago my boyfriend his father passed away is my child eligible for any benefits?

    • We are very sorry for your loss, Leighann. The child may be eligible for survivor benefits if the child’s father earned enough Social Security credits through his work. Unmarried children who are under 18 (up to age 19 if attending elementary or secondary school full time) can be eligible to receive Social Security benefits when a parent dies.

      To inquire about potential benefits, you will have to contact your local office or call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

  10. i have worked for ihss for 13 years , last year i filled out a foam that make us except from tax, that are wages are not counted i have done my tax every year, are my wage counted with ssi, in april thay cut my wifes check down to 44 dollars thay said it was becase my son turned 18 now thay say becase we are married and i make to mush money we are just get by, let me now if thats right.

    • Hi, Gary. Unfortunately, your question is a bit more complex than we can handle in this forum. For your security, we do not have access to information about your account in this venue. We do ask that members in our Blog community contact our offices with questions about their specific case. You can call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance. Representatives are available between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday but you will generally have a shorter wait time if you call later in the day. Or you can also contact your local office. Thanks!

  11. I am self-employed and 69 years old, at age 65 I stopped paying into Social Security because of some bad information that I received. What I would like to know is what benefits I can receive, if I can pay in to make up for the time period that I did not pay, In general I’m trying to find out what the consequences are for me not paying during the last four years and if I have any remedy to catch up and eliminate the potentially bad situation this could cause.
    Thank You

  12. If you work after starting to draw SS, do you Get credit for this and will your
    Monthly amount increase due to working?

    • Great question Lois. Each year we review the records for all working Social Security recipients to see if their additional earnings may increase their monthly benefits. If your earnings for the prior year are higher than one of the years we used to compute your retirement benefit, we will recalculate your benefit amount. Generally, we will send a letter explaining any increase in your benefit amount. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. Please call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. or contact your local office directly for further assistance. To learn more read our publication, How Work Affects Your Benefits. We hope this helps.

  13. I would like to start my own business so i can work out of home and delegate who and how much work will be done depending on how i feel. I just started receiving SSI and also have back pay coming. Can i request that back pay early to start the business? Also my car was also stolen, and I would like to buy a car. Is it possible to receive back pay earlier than every six months.? I am still entitled to the back pay arent I, if i start my own busines?

  14. I work for a company that does not take out for social security due to my profession as a licensed Minister working in the hospital as a Chaplain PRN not Full time or part time,. They are telling me that I need to claim no fica taxes to be withheld, but that later in the year the company will pay back what we paid into Social Security individually. I am not sure that I understand this.,,and if that is true – how can I place those earnings into my Social Security.

  15. This Question may have been asked already but I havent found it yet so here it goes: I am new to disability this year. I recieved back payment, but no taxes or deductions were taken out, so I wasnt sure how i needed to report this to the IRS. The lump sum, in my case, goes back 3.5 years and I will be taxed as if I earned all that income this year. This diesnt seems fair. I should be able to ammend my taxes to retroactively reflect the income rather than a lump sum distribution. Maybe my thinking is wrong. What does the tax law say? I went as far as asking the IRS in person as well as the Social Security Administration. Both were unsure of how to report the income other than as regular income. What is the official answer?

    • Hi Derrick, thank you for your question. If you are referring to the SSA-1099 and you currently live in the United States, you can request a replacement online using your my Social Security account. If you do not already have an account, you can create one. Go to Sign In or Create an Account. Once you are logged in to your account, select the “Replacement Documents” tab. If you are unable to create a my Social Security account or do not want to request it online, you may call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. or you can contact your local Social Security office.

      If you’re referring to a benefit verification letter, you can also request one online instantly by using your personal my Social Security account. This letter is sometimes called a budget letter, a benefits letter, a proof of income letter or a proof of award letter. Once in your my Social Security account, scroll down to the Benefits and Payments section and choose “get benefit verification letter” where you can instantly view, print, or save your official letter.

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