Are My Social Security Disability Benefits Taxed?
If you’re applying for or have just been granted Social Security disability benefits (SSDI), you may be wondering whether you’ll pay income tax on those benefits. The short answer is “maybe.” Whether or not your SSDI payments are considered taxable income depends on your income. Here’s how the calculation works.
Calculating Income to Determine Whether SSDI Benefits are Taxable
Single SSDI Recipients
If you’re single, you’ll pay income tax on a portion of your Social Security disability benefits if your total income is more than $25,000. But, “total income” here doesn’t actually mean all of your income. It means other income plus 50% of your SSDI benefit. This includes both taxable income and non-taxable interest income.
If you’re single and Social Security disability is your only income, it won’t be taxable–at least, not based on 2023 numbers. The average SSDI check in 2023 is estimated at $1,483/month, or $17,796/year–well below the threshold, even before you cut it in half. The maximum SSDI benefit for an individual is $3,627/month, or $43,524/year. Cut that in half and you have $21,762. So, if you have no income from other sources, your total income is below the threshold and you won’t pay tax on any of your Social Security disability benefits.
But what if you have other income?
Imagine, for instance, that you rent out a home you own for $1,500/month and you receive the average social security benefit of $1,483/month. That’s $18,000 in rental income, plus half of your $17,796/year in SSDI ($8,898). Added together, that’s $26,898–more than the $25,000 threshold. You will be taxed on some of your disability benefits.
Married SSDI Recipients
The threshold for married couples is $32,000–just $7,000/year more than for a single person. So, if you’re married to someone who is still working full-time, you are more likely to owe income tax on a portion of your Social Security disability benefits. In fact, a married couple each receiving Social Security disability benefits at the higher end of the spectrum could owe taxes on a portion of those benefits. For example, if each partner was receiving $3,000/month ($36,000/year), 50% of that income would be $36,000–above the threshold for a married couple.
Calculating Tax on SSDI Benefits
If you’re single and the total of your adjusted gross income, non-taxable interest and 50% of your Social Security disability benefit is between $25,000 and $34,000, you’ll pay tax on half of your benefits. If the total is over $34,000, you’ll pay tax on 85%. If you’re married filing jointly, you’ll pay taxes on 50% of your benefits if total income is between $32,000 and $44,000, and on 85% of your SSDI income if total income exceeds $44,000.
To avoid getting hit with tax debt at the end of the year, you can choose to have taxes withheld from your benefits.
Income taxes are just one of the many complicated issues associated with applying for and receiving Social Security disability benefits. To learn more about how an experienced disability benefits advocate can help, contact us here or call (800) 800-3332.