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Howard Kossover: Rental income will not affect Social Security benefits

Q: I have a duplex and rent out part of it. Will rental income affect my SSA retirement?

A: Only your gross wages or net income from self-employment is considered for annual earnings test purposes.

Rental income will not affect your Social Security benefits, nor does income of your spouse, dividends, other investment earnings, interest, most pensions, annuities, and capital gains.

Read the booklet “How Work Affects Your Benefits” at

Q: Can a person change their Social Security number?

A: While rare, being provided a different Social Security number (SSN) is not impossible. Only a very few circumstances are generally used to assign a different number, and these are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Examples where a new SSN might be assigned are if more than one person was assigned or is using the same number, a victim of identity theft is being very disadvantaged by using his or her original SSN, or in situations of harassment, abuse or life endangerment including domestic violence.

Even in these limited circumstances, being provided a new Social Security number can create new problems. For example, since the old number cannot be used, a lifetime of records including credit history is not available.

Did You Know? Information in many different languages is available on the Social Security website,

At top right of the homepage, you can change the entire website into Spanish and view selected topics in different languages.

Website features to increase accessibility, including larger text and a program to read the website text aloud, are also there.

Information in Ameri-can Sign Language (ASL) was added this month with a 13-minute video titled “Social Security, SSI, and Medicare: What you absolutely need to know about these vital programs in American Sign Language.”

Not fluent in ASL? The video is also spoken aloud and transcribed.

Based in Grand Forks, Howard I. Kossover is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Send general interest questions to him at Read his online articles at