lady holding tax formsDo I Owe Taxes on My Social Security Disability Benefits?

Social Security disability beneficiaries may or may not be required to pay income taxes on their earnings depending on a couple different scenarios. We’ll review some of these scenarios in this article.


Should I File a Tax Form?

Let’s answer an easy question first. Should you file a tax form at all? It is recommended that you always file tax forms each year, even if you owe nothing. There are a couple reasons for this. One is that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will find it difficult to accuse you of not filing if you have filed each year. Secondly, under the Affordable Healthcare legislation you need to file tax forms to show income in order to receive health insurance at reduced cost. This is more the case for people who do not yet qualify for Medicare coverage.  

Will I Owe Taxes?

Now we are to the scenarios we talked about. Paying income taxes will depend on the amount you receive each month as well as if you are filing by yourself or jointly and if you had additional income. Let’s start with single file taxpayers first.

Single File

If you are filing singly (by yourself) and earned nothing more than the average Social Security disability income (about $1,100 per month or $13,200 for the year) then you will most likely not owe any income taxes. However, if you have additional income that put you over $25,000, then you probably owe some income tax.  

As a perk, unlike regular income, if you do end up owing taxes because your income was more than $25,000 then you will only owe taxes on a maximum of 85% of the disability income. This perk is a sliding scale, though.

  • If you earned between $25,000 and $34,000 then only 50% of the disability income is taxable. In other words,using the example given above with a taxpayer earning $13,200 disability income, taxes would be owed on only half of the disability income or $6,600. The other half is tax free.

  • If you earned more than $34,000 then the IRS will expect you to pay taxes on 85% of your disability income. The remaining 15% is not taxed.

Joint File

If you and someone else (normally your spouse) file your taxes together then the top income limit that you would owe taxes on increases to $32,000 per year. If you and your spouse’s combined income is less than $32,000 then you are probably safe income tax-wise.

Once again, the disability income is taxable only to 85% of the disability amount. But the income levels change when filing jointly.

  • If your combined income is between $32,000 and $44,000 then 50% of the disability income is taxable.

  • If your combined income is higher than $44,000 then 85% of the disability income is taxable.


Of course, if your income is high enough you can still claim the normal deductions that apply such as child credits and business expenses.


The Cochran Firm Disability Lawyers is a legal firm that specializes in disability law, not tax law. Therefore, we recommend you schedule an appointment with an accountant to make sure your taxes are filed properly. Although the bulk of the information contained in this article was drawn directly from the IRS website, this article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as tax advice! In addition, the numbers quoted in this article apply to income earned during 2015.




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About the Cochran Firm Disability Lawyers
Recognized as one of the nation’s premier law firms, The Cochran Firm handles cases on behalf of clients seeking a Personal Injury Lawyer, Criminal Defense, Medical Malpractice, Bankruptcy Attorney in Atlanta or Social Security Disability Lawyer.The Firm can be reached at 1-800-THE-FIRM (1-800-843-3476) or fill out the form on this page. “Working for You.” Article by Benjamin A. Irwin, Esq.

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