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Do I Have to File Taxes When Receiving Disability Benefits?

There is a saying that the only two things in life that are certain are death and taxes. As United States citizens, we are well aware of the fact that we pay taxes on the income we receive. In fact, a part of those taxes is what makes it possible for disabled workers to obtain Social Security Disability benefits. The question is, do Social Security Disability beneficiaries have to file taxes when receiving disability benefits and do they have to pay taxes on the Social Security Disability benefits that they receive?

Whether or not you actually have to file taxes when receiving Social Security Disability depends on how much income you receive and whether or not your spouse receives an income. If Social Security Disability benefits are your only source of income and you are single, you do not necessarily have to file taxes. Doing so, however, may be in your best interests – such as the case with stimulus payments that you may not receive if you do not file taxes.

The general rule of thumb to follow is that you will have to pay federal taxes on your Social Security Disability benefits if you file a federal tax return as an individual and your total income is more than $25,000. If you file a joint return, you will have to pay taxes if you and your spouse have a total combined income that exceeds $32,000.

The good news is that you will not have to pay taxes on all of the Social Security Disability benefits that you receive if you do fall within one of the above tax brackets. If you file a federal tax return as an individual and earn between $25,000 and $34,000 for the year, you may be responsible for paying income tax on 50 percent of the amount you received from the Social Security Administration (SSA). If your income is more than $34,000, then you may have to pay taxes on up to 85 percent of your Social Security Disability benefits.

If you file jointly with your spouse, you may have to pay taxes on 50 percent of your Social Security Disability benefits if you and your spouse have a combined income of between $32,000 and $44,000. If you and your spouse have a combined income of more than $44,000, then up to 85 percent of your Social Security Disability income may be taxed. The good news is that you will never have to pay taxes on more than 85 percent of your Social Security Disability earnings.

It is in your best interests to file jointly with your spouse. If you file as married filing separately, you will likely have to pay taxes on some portion of your Social Security Disability payments.

The SSA is not obligated to withhold taxes from your Social Security Disability payments. If, however, you feel that you are going to owe taxes on your Social Security Disability benefits you can contact the SSA and ask them to withhold taxes for you if you prefer your tax situation be handled through tax withholding. In order to do this, you will need to contact your local Social Security Office in order to set up tax withholding arrangements.