Social Security is a complicated program for many retirees, especially married couples. Figuring out when benefits are subject to tax or reduction can be hard to figure out for many families.

In this installment of our Social Security Q&A series, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, answers a question from Carol, who notes that she'll be taking Social Security while her husband is still working and asks whether she'll have her benefits forfeited or taxed based on her husband's job income. Dan notes that there are two separate factors at issue, one involving potential forfeiture of early Social Security benefits because of work income, and the other involving taxation of benefits. Dan points out that for purposes of forfeiture, only your own work income matters, not that of a spouse. For taxation, though, Dan notes that as much as 50% to 85% of your benefits can be included in taxable income, and total family income including that of a spouse would be considered for a joint tax return. Dan concludes that it's important to know all the ramifications of family finances on Social Security benefits.

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Have general questions about Social Security? Email them to, and they might be the subject of a future video!

Dan Caplinger and The Motley Fool have no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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