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Are You Receiving Social Security, Pension or Disability Income?


HELPS is a nonprofit law firm and 501(c)(3) charitable organization. We serve senior citizens and disabled persons struggling with debt.

Call HELPS now to learn how your retirement income is protected by law and how we can help.

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Need immediate help? Call 855-435-7787 to speak to a HELPS representative.

Filing Tax Returns

Do Seniors Need To File Tax Returns?

If Social Security is your sole source of income, then you don't need to file a tax return.

However, if you have other income, you may be required to file a tax return depending on the amount of other income. Here are the guidelines.

If you are unmarried and at least 65 years of age, then you will need to file a tax return if your gross income is $11,850 or more (remember, this is income other than Social Security). If your income other than Social Security is less than $11,850, then your gross income equals zero for tax purposes, and you don't have to file a federal income tax return.

Married Filing Jointly
If you are married and file a joint return with a spouse who is also 65 or older, you must file a return if your combined gross income is $23,300 or more. (Remember, your Social Security is not part of this income; you don’t need to file a return if Social Security is your only income.) If your spouse is under 65 years old, then the amount decreases to $22,050. These income amounts only apply to the 2017 tax year, and generally increase slightly each year.

Married Filing Separately
Seniors must include their Social Security benefits in gross income in certain situations. If you are married and live with your spouse at any time during the year but file a separate tax return, then all of your Social Security benefits are considered gross income, which may require you to file a tax return.

Regardless of your filing status, a portion of your Social Security benefits are included in gross income if in any year the sum of half your Social Security plus all other income, including tax-exempt interest, exceeds $25,000 if you’re single or exceeds $32,000 if you are married filing jointly.

Even if you must file a tax return, you can reduce the amount of tax you may owe. If you are at least 65 years old and your income from sources other than Social Security is not high, then the tax credit for the elderly or disabled can reduce your tax bill on a dollar-for-dollar basis. However, this tax credit is only useful when you actually owe taxes to the IRS. Look at this IRS link for more details:

If you receive what is called a 1099c or have other questions, please look at this HELPS article, “Past Due Income Taxes."


Eric Olsen, Executive Director HELPS nonprofit law firm.

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Peace of Mind
These HELPS clients were dealing with harassing debt collectors and anxiety over old Debt. HELPS provided a solution to their financial worries.