How to File a Tax Return if You are on SSI or Have No Income

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Art: Robin Mead

New information has been released, so we took down this page. Please look here instead:

For SSI: I’m on Social Security. What is The Best and Easiest Way to Get a Stimulus Check?

For no income: How Do I Apply to Get a Stimulus Check? Do I Have to File Taxes?


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30 thoughts on “How to File a Tax Return if You are on SSI or Have No Income”

  1. I went to HR block and it gives an option for people with no income. You skip the income. Under interest, income, and capital gain you put $1 in box one. And in Financial Institution, you type Stimumus Check. Then hit next. Hit next all the way through until you get to where it gives the option to select; deposit options or I owe $0 to IRS. Click the $0, and it allows you to enter your bank info or get check via mail.

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  2. hi.. I am on s.s.i and have the state issued direct deposit card and i had recently opened a bank account but have not been able to get to my local ssa office to set up the direct deposit for my bank account. will the stimulus go to the state issued direct deposit even though ssa is not making the payment, or is there something else i should do? i would rather it be direct deposit versus a paper check, but will do what is necessary.
    thank you in advance

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    1. I’m sorry I don’t know the answer. I do know that you can add your bank account be calling SSA. It’s sometimes also possible to do if you have an online ssa account.

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      1. https://www.montereyherald.com/2020/04/02/coronavirus-panetta-leads-pressure-on-irs-to-pay-ssi-beneficiaries-without-delay/
        “some people who typically do not file returns will need to submit a simple tax return to receive the economic impact payment. When more specific details become available, we will update this page.”
        https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus
        It seems the details are still being worked out. Either the IRS will automatically deposit the CARES Act money for ssi recipients as some in congress are lobbying the Treasury, or else the IRS will update a simple tax return that will be used to file for the money. the irs.gov/coronavirus link above will provide the details on their page when available.

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  3. Hello. I have no income. I have filed for disability but it is still being determined by the SSA. I haven’t been able to work in several years, therefore I haven’t filed 2018 or 2019 tax returns. Will I be eligible for the stimulus check? If so, what do I need to do? Also, I do not have a bank account since i have no income. Thank you for your help in advance. Stay safe.

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    1. Susan, first of all, yes, you are eligible if you have a ss number. First I would open a bank account, I use
      https://www.chime.com/blog/what-do-you-need-to-open-a-bank-account/, you will receive direct deposit info you would then submit when you file a 2019 simplified tax return. You don’t need money to set up direct deposit to open an account. When you are approved for ssi, they will then ask for your direct deposit info. You can also get a check from the irs, however, it will take longer to receive, and I think you can only get your first check for ssi.
      Also be careful of check cashing fees if you don’t have a bank account, and just wanting to cash a check.

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  4. I am on SSI and have direct deposit. I haven’t filed a tax return, but curiously yesterday, April 1st, at about this time, I received a $65 deposit from the treasury department. I have no clue as to why and have googled extensively, and haven’t found an explanation. I have no clue if this is a part or all of the CARES Act stimulus check. I am curious if anyone else has had the same or similar?

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  5. What happened to my comment? It showed up after I posted it yesterday, but today it’s gone? I tried to resubmit the comment, but it said “duplicate comment detected”? Why? I thought it was a nice comment?

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      1. So weird that my above comment went through, but not my original one. I just tried to send the original comment again, a few minutes ago (with slight modification so it wouldn’t detect a “duplicate”) and it showed after I posted it, and now it’s gone already…

        Two questions:
        1) If the stimulus check is deposited to a bank account that has only SSDI (or DAC in my case) funds, will that mixing of funds jeopardize the entire account with regards to judgement creditors who want to garnish the account?
        2) If I move money out of that account into another bank or brokerage account, is it still protected from creditors? What about interest and/or capital gains earned on that money in the new account? Is there something I can do to protect it, like file some form with the new bank or brokerage firm? Or is it not protectable if moved out of the account it was direct deposited to?

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        1. 1. great question!! I do not know.

          2. It definitely will not be protected if it’s moved. It could be withdrawn or spent. since you are DAC, you could open an ABLE account and put it in there.

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          1. 1. Any idea where I can get the answer? This is the ONLY helpful site I’ve come across – disability attorneys don’t seem to care what happens to you after they win your case, and I don’t trust SSA to tell me the truth or even know the answers – in my experience they are horrible people. I don’t know where else to turn – you’d think there would be some certified financial planner somewhere who would specialize in helping people on disability and act as a fiduciary (put clients interests ahead of own greed, unlike most “financial planners”, brokers, etc….

            2. I’ve researched ABLE accounts pretty heavily, but can’t figure out two things
            – do they protect funds from creditors? (only California’s ABLE seems to?)
            – once in an ABLE account, is my money stuck there? I can either spend it on allowed expenses or else move it to another ABLE account? I can’t move it to a bank account in another country if I have to move abroad to avoid becoming homeless while waiting for Section 8?

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              1. OK, thank you!

                I’m on DAC, not SSI, but I’m really wary of getting into Section 8 or putting my back pay money in an ABLE account to reduce my assets in order to qualify for Medicaid as a DAC (Disabled Adult Child), because of increased monitoring and compliance stuff, just more stuff to worry about and trip you up (I believe all levels of government are trying to kick people off these programs).

                On the other hand, I’ve heard that living abroad on disability (SSDI or DAC) can also trigger more monitoring and compliance requirements – do you know anything about this?

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  6. THANK YOU for this fantastic site.

    One thing I have not seen addressed anywhere: if this stimulus check is direct deposited into a bank account with SSDI funds (technically DAC funds in my case), will that put the account in jeopardy of being garnished by creditors? (I had to go to an emergency room recently and now have 5 different creditors sending me bills, saying my Medicare Advantage plan is worthless! Needless to say, I cannot afford to pay them – I thought that’s what insurance was for?)

    My understanding is that such funds are automatically protected only if they are the only funds in an account they were direct deposited to. Any other funds mixed in (such as this stimulus check?) would leave the account vulnerable, right?

    So in that case, should I file a tax return even though I get an SSA-1099 form every year, in hope that they will send my stimulus check in the mail instead of using my SSA-1099 info to direct deposit it?

    A related question: if I move money out of this account (where it earns zero interest) into a brokerage account (say Vanguard or Schwab, etc.), would it still be automatically protected from creditors? Would any interest or capital gains earned also be protected? If not, is there something I could do to make it protected (fill out some form with the brokerage firm or something)? Or am I just stuck earning nothing on what little money I have?

    I’ve asked the people at Schwab and Fidelity, and they don’t know. Social Security disability attorneys seem to only want to work on cases, and after that you’re on your own and they couldn’t care less about you or the new issues you’re facing…

    Thanks again, and keep up the good work!

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  7. I just helped my 2 adult sons who collect SSI/SSDI and up until now have been claimed as dependents on our tax returns. But, we have no taxable income and it doesn’t help us to have them as dependents. So, despite the fact that they collect SSI/SSDI, I needed to file for them ASAP to get their dependency status straightened up and off our taxes. Even tho they both had 1099-SSA forms, Turbo tax wouldn’t go through without any income. I read around online and the safest route seemed to be to declare $1 interest income on a 1099-INT. I read that it raises less red flags than declaring $1 income without a W2. And when they wanted me to input the 1099-INT, I simply chose the gray option of “I’ll type it in myself” and then I typed, “in order to eFile”. Otherwise the mailed tax returns will sit in a growing pile somewhere for the next few months while many IRS workers aren’t at their jobsites.

    Thank you for posting this. It was the head start that I needed!

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  8. I filed for my 17 year old daughter because I couldn’t claim her in 2019. She is unclaimed and on SSI. I put in $1 for income based on royalty lol. I figured I have given her a $1 for her drawings sometime in the last year. I made sure that I filled out that it was completed by me, a third person. We will see what happens. I’ll let you know.

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  9. Hey sleepygirl,
    Is there a link on how to fill out 1040 for those on SSI?

    Question 5a: Do I use the SSA-1099? And Is the SSA-1099 only for SSDI and not SSI?
    If it’s not for SSI, do I need to calculate how much SSI I’ve received this yea,r and add it to the net benefits on the SSA-1099?
    Also, do I need to include IRS form 1098 – mortgage interest, which t I received in the mail?
    Thanks

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    1. My adult children get both SSDI and SSI. We get SSDI and other non taxable income.

      My adult children both got a 1099-SSA for ONLY their SSDI. They do not get a document for their SSI. No, you do not add the SSI income to the SSDI 1099.

      When using a program to do your taxes, you either get a standard deduction or itemized deductions which includes copays on meds and drs, medical miles, etc, and of course, your mortgage interest. However, remember, if you have no taxable income, then these deductions are pointless and won’t garner you any tax credits to my knowledge and from my experience.

      I’m not an accountant (so, please, take everything I say with a grain of salt!), but I just went through all of this last night which is why I know it off the top of my head. Plus, we went from earned income to completely nontaxable income when my hubby became disabled 8 years ago. So, I have been thru the transition of needing those deductions to not having them make any difference. But, your case may be different, and one of the free tax applications that this article links you to will take you through it step-by-step. Turbo tax did a great job for free for my husband and me, and then for each of my adult children. (All of us are disabled.) It was literally step by step with explanations if I needed them. So easy!

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  10. With 8 million SSI recipients, at least half those on SSI alone, the Treasury Dept. could have easily accessed the info for Direct Deposit. Thank you so much for posting this information. If I was on SSI, I would immediately file a tax return. Better safe than sorry with $1200 to lose. I just helped a family member file thanks to this website.

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