News From Our Blog

Tax Relief for Survivors of Terrorist Attacks

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides tax relief to survivors and some dependents of those killed during the following terrorist attacks:

  • Oklahoma City bombing, 1995
  • September 11, 2001 (attacks in New York, Washington, DC and United Airlines flight 93 in Pennsylvania)
  • Anthrax attacks, 2001

Tax relief for eligible individuals

  • Disability payments to survivors. These payments, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), are not subject to income tax if the disability occurred as a direct result from a terrorist attack.
  • Tax forgiveness for the deceased as a result of any of the attacks listed above. Tax relief is available retroactively to one year before the attack.

    For joint tax returns, only the tax liability of the deceased is eligible for tax forgiveness. If both spouses are eligible, the amount of relief is determined separately.
  • Assistance for personal, family, living, or funeral expenses incurred because of a terrorist attack. The IRS grants at least $10,000, either as credit or refund, if the deceased’s total tax relief is less than this amount.

Forms to apply for tax relief

There aren’t specific tax relief forms for survivors of terrorist attacks. Download Adobe Reader and choose the appropriate tax form for your situation:

  • The 1040 or 1040NR (nonresident alien) form is for claiming tax forgiveness for someone who is dead or for requesting a refund for taxes withheld from disability payments. Complete 1040X if you have already filed your return.
  • W-4 form to stop withholding tax payments declared on a W-2 form. Present the W-4 form to your employer.
  • W-4P form to stop withholding taxes on pension or annuity payments declared on a 1099-R form. Show this form to your company or pension agency.
  • W-4V to stop withholding SSDI payments. Show this form to your local Social Security Administration office.

For more information contact the IRS at 866-562-5227 or refer to Publication 3920.

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Sign up for a my Social Security Account

By: Diana Varela, Public Affairs Specialist, Social Security Administration

We are excited to announce that August 17 -23, 2014 will mark our First National my Social Security Week!. Whether retirement seems like it is just around the corner or years away, it is good to know that Social Security is working for you now—even if you are not receiving benefits yet. How? By providing you with the information you need to plan ahead for the retirement you want.

One of the best tools for planning a secure retirement is waiting for you at www.socialsecurity.gov: a my Social Security account. When you create your personal my Social Security online account, you will be able to get your online Social Security Statement, review your lifetime earnings history (and catch any errors while it is easier to fix them), see estimates of your future benefits, and more—important information that can help you plan and save for greater peace of mind.

Opening a my Social Security account online is quick, safe, free, and easy. It takes only minutes. Go to the Social Security website at www.socialsecurity.gov and click on my Social Security. Then follow the instructions for creating your secure, online account. You must be at least 18 years of age and have:

  • A valid e-mail address,
  • A Social Security number, and
  • A U.S. mailing address.

You will also need to provide some personal information and answer some questions only you are likely to know. This process protects you and keeps your information private. There are extra security features, too. You can have unique text message codes sent to your cell phone each time you want to sign in. There is even an address bar at the top of your screen indicating the website has an extended validation certificate. This means the information you provide to Social Security will be encrypted and that the website has been verified by a certification authority.

Once you see your estimated retirement benefits, you can really start to plan, invest, and save with more confidence. You can even explore when you might retire. 

While Social Security will be here to provide you with a secure foundation in the future, it was never intended to be your sole source of retirement income. You may want to put aside more for a comfortable retirement.

And once you do retire, or start receiving benefits for any reason, your my Social Security account is the best place to manage those benefits. You can use your account to get an instant benefit verification letter, change your address and phone number on Social Security’s records, and start or change direct deposit of your benefit payment.

More than 11 million people have opened a safe and secure my Social Security account. Join them—take control of your future retirement security by signing up for a my Social Security account. Learn more and create yours today at www.socialsecurity.gov.

It is never too early—or too late—to plan for retirement.

Read this note in Spanish.

Do you have questions about child support and how to access it? Find information and your local office to get help.

Does the Federal Government Offer Car Grants?

No. The federal government offers grants and financial assistance in many areas, but will not give you money to buy a car.

There are very few grants available to individuals, sometimes called “personal grants.” Most grants are awarded to universities, researchers, cities, states, counties and non-profit organizations. If you are searching for a grant, get more information on specific grants and funding opportunities in a particular field, Grants.gov put all the information you need in one place.

The best place to find money to help you and your family is Benefits.gov.

When looking for financial assistance, remember that there are differences between grants and loans. You are required to pay back a loan, often with interest. You are not required to pay back a grant.

Your state’s human service or social service agency might also be able to provide financial assistance or refer you to local community organizations for help.

Answers to Your Most Frequent Questions about Social Security Benefits

During Financial Literacy Month we asked our Facebook, Twitter and Google+ friends what questions they had related to Social Security benefits and retirement. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions we received and the answers that our partner at the Social Security Administration provided.

What is the minimum age to collect Social Security benefits?

As early as 62 years of age for reduced benefits, or unreduced benefits at your full retirement age.  Full retirement depends on your year of birth. Learn about the pros and cons of early retirement or delaying retirement.

How can I collect benefits if I have a child with a disability?

If you are the parent of a child who has a physical or mental impairment that causes severe functional limitations, your child could be eligible for Supplemental Security Income. Visit:http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/ssi.htm to learn more and complete a disability report. You can also call 1-800-772-1213 to schedule an appointment with the SSA.

Is my spouse eligible for benefits?

A spouse could receive an amount equal to 50 percent of the amount the beneficiary receives at full retirement age, if the spouse is of full retirement age as well. If this spouse receives a pension from an employer not covered under Social Security, benefits will be reduced. You can find more information on the Government Pension Offset (PDF).

Survivor benefits, how does this work?

If you are a widow, the child or the parent of a deceased worker, you may be eligible for monthly benefits orLump-Sum Death Payment.

There is no statute of limitations on receiving survivor death benefits if you are a child, parent or surviving spouse of a deceased worker for as long as you meet the eligibility criteria.  Detailed information can also be found here information here: How Social Security Can Help You When A Family Member Dies (PDF).

What are the benefit implications of delaying retirement?

If retirement is delayed, the worker will be eligible for Delayed Retirement Credits. Delayed Retirement Credits from Social Security are an eight percent increase in the benefits for every year, after worker turns Full Retirement Age, and benefits are delayed.

If a beneficiary currently receives Social Security benefits, and he or she is not of full retirement age, up to $15,480.00 in 2014 could be earn in regular or self – employment. Social Security will deduct $1 from the benefits for each $2 earned above that limit.

If you reach full retirement age this year, the beneficiary can earn $41,400 in the months before the month full retirement age is attained. If he or she earns above the limit, Social Security will deduct $1 from these benefits for every $3 earned above the limit.


How do I apply for Medicare?

A worker is eligible for Medicare at 65 years old.  Younger workers would be eligible if receiving disability benefits (there is a 24 months waiting period).  More information is available at  http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/medicare.htm

Medicare does not pay for all the costs of medical expenses. Some beneficiaries choose to enroll in Medicare supplemental insurance. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services offers more information about Medigap policies (supplemental insurance).


What if I collect other benefits from the federal government?

Social Security benefits are not affected by a Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) pension.  However, a pension from The Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) will reduce Social Security benefits if you apply for benefits on your Spouse’s Social Security record. More information on the Government Pension Offset is available on the Social Security Administration’s website.

My benefits seem to low, how can I have my benefits reviewed?

It is possible to be eligible for additional benefits if the beneficiary does not have any other income and has limited resources. Social Security has a toll free number 1-800-772-1213 where a representative can be requested to review a record.

I currently live outside of the United States, can I still collect benefits?

If a beneficiary has worked in the United States but now lives abroad it may be possible to collect benefits. More information on payments while overseas is on the Social Security Administration’s website. A beneficiary can also contact the U.S. embassy in the country where they reside.

More questions or concerns regarding your benefits?

Contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 and speak to a representative who can review your record or who could further help answer your questions.