New York Taxability of Social Security Benefits

by Rod Howell

Millions of beneficiaries in New York receive Social Security survivors, disability and retirement payments every year. Social Security benefits are not subject to New York's state or local taxes and generally are not taxable at the federal level. However, beneficiaries with other types of taxable incomes can cause their Social Security benefits to be considered taxable compensation.


Social Security benefit amounts are based on the lifetime earnings of workers. The Social Security Administration calculates benefit amounts every year. Social Security statements are mailed annually to eligible applicants detailing how much they're entitled to. Eligible Social Security beneficiaries receive benefit checks once a month. The Social Security disability program, however, has a waiting period lasting five full months that beneficiaries must satisfy before receiving benefits.

Family Benefits

Besides beneficiaries, spouses, children and even ex-spouses are eligible to receive Social Security benefits off of their records. Children receive benefits up to age 18 or 19 if they're attending secondary schools. Spouses and ex-spouses have to be at least 62 years of age under the disability and retirement programs and at least 50 and disabled under the survivors program to receive benefits. The three programs also pay benefits to spouses and ex-spouses at any age if they're caring for the beneficiary's children under 16. Benefit amounts differ by program as well. Retirement and disability programs pay benefits of up to 50 percent of the beneficiary's full benefit rates, while the survivors program pays up to 100 percent to spouses and ex-spouses and 75 percent to children. Family benefits are distributed tax-free as well.

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Although New York beneficiaries receive Social Security benefits tax-free, the Internal Revenue Service taxes their benefits if they have other sources of income, such as work earnings, that together exceed income guidelines. For instance, individuals whose combined incomes surpass $25,000 per year will have 50 percent of their Social Security benefits taxed at normal income tax rates and up to 85 percent if their incomes top $34,000. For beneficiaries who are married, combined household incomes topping $32,000 result in 50 percent of their Social Security benefits being taxed and if it's over $44,000 in a year, up to 85 percent is taxed.


New York beneficiaries received over $3.6 billion each month in Social Security benefits in 2009, according to Congressional statistics. Another requirement for ex-spouses is they had to have been married to beneficiaries for at least 10 years to receive benefits off of their records. However, this marriage requirement is waived under the survivors program. Children disabled before 22 receive tax-free Social Security benefits for the remainder of their lives. Children, disabled or not, must be unmarried to receive benefits.

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