TN 27 (02-24)

RS 02101.111 Employment Status of Domestic Service

A. Services performed by a relative

When a relative (either by blood, marriage, or adoption) of the alleged employer performs domestic services, because of the close family relationship, it raises the question as to whether there is an employment relationship.

Even when the parties act in good faith and report “wages” for the domestic, unless the evidence establishes there was a true employer-employee relationship where the relative performed services in exchange for remuneration, any amounts of cash exchanged between the parties do not constitute “wages” for Social Security purposes. The details of the employment are not easy to observe by outsiders because the relative generally performed services inside the home.

Services are covered where an employment relationship exists. Exceptions are as follows:

  • a child aged 18 through 21 performs the service and the service is not in the course of the employer’s trade or business, or it is domestic service in a private home of the employer;

  • a child under age 18 in the employ of a parent; or

  • an individual in the employ of a child or spouse (see RS 01901.250 for coverage rules for family employment).

NOTE: However, domestic service by a parent in the private home of a child is covered under special circumstances (see RS 01901.200 for coverage of domestic employment in a private home).

B. Services performed by a member of the same household

Questions about whether an employment relationship is valid may also arise when friends share a common household and one allegedly becomes the employer of the other. A course of inquiry exists to obtain a reasonably complete picture of the household situation and the nature of the relationship of the domestic with others in the household. The purpose of the inquiry is to obtain facts to determine whether there was an employment relationship.

Development procedures are applicable for cases in addition to relative cases. Follow the procedures in non-relative cases where the circumstances suggest a family cooperative agreement, e.g., the parties lived together for a number of years, each participating in the duties and obligations to maintain the household. (See SSR 61-6 , C.B. 1960-65 p. 152, and SSR 64-61c , C.B. 1960-1965, p. 153 and SSR 61-44, Personal Services Performed for a Family Member or Close Friend.)

C. References

  • IRS Publication 926, Household Employer’s Tax Guide at

  • SSA Publication No. 05-10021, Household Workers

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RS 02101.111 - Employment Status of Domestic Service - 02/22/2024
Batch run: 02/22/2024