Will exercising NQSOs impact my social security benefits?

October 10, 2014

Subject:   Non-Qualified Stock Options (NQSO)
Date:   Thu, 16 Aug 2007
From:   John

Mr. Gray:

I received NQSOs for 2100 shares from my employer at an average price of $13. I retired a year ago at age 63, and am now receiving social security. I have 3 years to exercise the options or they will lapse. The excess of the fair market value of the shares over the option price is $56,000.

Is this gain ordinary income subject to regular income, social security and Medicare taxes rather than a capital gain? If this is so, should I delay exercising the options until after I am age 65 so the income will not impact my social security benefits?

Any help from you is deeply appreciated.



Date:   12 Sep 2007

Hello John,

Yes, the income will be taxed as wages, subject to income and employment taxes.

I am not an expert on social security benefits. My understanding is that the option income is considered a separate category of “deferred compensation” income that should not reduce your benefits. I suggest that you consult with a social security case worker about that issue.

Best wishes,

Mike Gray

For more information about non-qualified stock options, request our free report, Non-Qualified Stock Options – Executive Tax and Financial Planning Strategies.

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