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Ask Dr. Fiona Chen Your Own Question
Dr. Fiona Chen
Dr. Fiona Chen, Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 482
Experience:  Former IRS Revenue Agent
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I am at FRA and receiving my SS check. My wife is 62 and

Customer Question

I am at FRA and receiving my SS check. My wife is 62 and employed in an international organization with a tax exempt salary. We fille joint 1040 but only with my income. Is the tax exempt salary considered considered income given its status as exempt? Will there be a penalty if we file for spousal benefit?
JA: I think they do a wonderful job. All Experts must pass our rigorous 8 Step Expert Quality Process. This ensures that you get the most knowledgeable, trustworthy help anywhere on the Internet. You can learn more about it here: These retirement benefits are supposed to help us but they can be so complicated! The Retirement Expert will help you get the most benefits propertly. Is there anything else the retirement accountant should be aware of?
Customer: Nothing else
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  Dr. Fiona Chen replied 11 months ago.

Dear Customer,

Please still go to the SSA to make inquiry. The SSA will ask all kinds of questions. As long as you are full disclosure, there is no so called "fraud" issue. The SSA has its own data system. They don't rely on the IRS system although their system is updated and reconciled with the IRS system periodically. If you concern, when you just started with the interview with them, tell them about her income to start with, then, you don't have to worry it. What they care most is whether she has another pension coming for her.

Before you make final application, however, make sure that it is the most beneficial situation for your spouse to apply for the spousal benefit for now. Because you are on social security already, when she applies, she would be considered as having applied for her own and for yours (spousal) at the same time. It is called "deemed" having applied for her own at age 62. The below citation and website link are for your further information.

Please feel free to follow up.



Fiona Chen, MPA, Ph.D., CPA, ABV, CFF, CITP

"Maria turns age 62 after January 1, 2016 and her husband, Joe, is 65. They have each worked enough years to earn a retirement benefit. In March of 2020, Maria has reached her full retirement age and files for benefits. Maria is eligible for a spousal benefit on Joe’s record. Maria must file for both benefits. She can no longer file only for the spousal benefit and delay filing for her own retirement. She will receive a combination of the two benefits that equals the higher amount."