Q:  My husband and I ran a construction company for 20 plus years.  After he had a heart attack, we had to close down.  We always filed jointly as a married couple, but his Social Security benefit is almost twice what I get.  Why?

A:  The most likely explanation for this difference is that when you filed your federal income tax returns, you and your husband indicated that all or most of your business income should be credited to his Social Security earnings record.  That is a common tax strategy for couples because generally it produces greater combined Social Security benefits for the two of you.  It also maximizes benefits to a surviving spouse.

Your earnings record can be changed retroactively if you can produce business records and other evidence that the earnings credits should have been equally divided.  If successful, your husband’s benefit would be reduced while yours would rise.  However, the survivor benefit payable to either of you could be reduced.  You should consider carefully if that would be a desirable outcome.