Do I have to report Social Security benefits on the FAFSA?


Q. My two children, 15 and 18, both received Social Security benefits because I am 65 and on Social Security. The 18-year-old is a senior in high school and is receiving benefits until she graduates while the 15-year-old’s benefits are payable to me as his representative payee. In 2021, when the 18-year-old was younger, her benefits were payable to me as representative payee. Now I’m filling out the FAFSA. I know some of my Social Security is taxable and reportable, but what about the kids? My accountant said that none of their benefits are taxable due to their respective income levels.
— Parent

A. It’s an exciting time with your oldest applying to colleges.

We hope she gets into the schools she wants, and we also hope they’re affordable.

As for the FAFSA, taxable Social Security benefits need to be reported while the non-taxable portion does not need to be included, said Jody D’Agostini, a certified financial planner with Equitable Advisors/The Falcon Financial Group in Morristown.

She said if your income is between $25,000 and $34,000, then one-half of it is taxable. Over that amount, 85% of it is taxable income, she said.

“I would agree with the accountant that since the younger recipients do not eclipse $25,000 in income, then their benefits would be non-taxable and therefore do not need to be reported,” she said.

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This story was originally published on Nov. 16, 2022. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.