Social Security When You Are Self-Employed

October 18, 2018 • By

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Last Updated: October 18, 2018

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.


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About the Author

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications


  1. Kish A.

    The President of the United States, Donald Trump owes the IRS 500 million dollars.
    When will that be resolved?

    • marie

      really LOL you funny I wonder who else owes….

  2. Brenda

    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.

  3. Bill W.

    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

    • Vonda V.

      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”.


    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!

    • Vonda V.

      Richard, thank you for your question. If you’re self-employed, you report your earnings for Social Security 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.

      Check out Social Security’s Business Services for additional online information and services.

  5. mario a.

    Thanks for all you,re assitence and info. Blessings

    • Ray F.

      We appreciate your thoughts. Thanks for your comment, Mario!

  6. Linda O.

    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!!!

    • Ray F.

      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!

  7. Margaret A.

    I am not able to log into my account. SSA says that it can not verify my identity.
    What do I do?


  8. Darryl J.

    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.

    • Patricia

      Sorry, no.

  9. Jason L.

    I am not self employed , I have 2 frontal lobe TBI’s and Ive lost everything – I would truly rather be dead

    • Jason L.

      I pray for death

      • Eli

        May God bless you and provide for you. Ask for help. Call 211 or go to, first call for help by United Way, to find resources. Death would be the beginning of peace but there are other solutions here on earth.

  10. Lesly F.

    I haven’t none an those issues.

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