Taxing disability benefits


Q: I am need to clarify whether disability retirement becomes nontaxable once a person reaches retirement age. I cannot get a clear answer from the Office of Personnel Management or the Internal Revenue Service. I have gone over IRS Publications 721 and 525. My father left the Post Office on disability in 1972. He is now 78 years old, and I am trying to file his tax returns. He is not eligible for Social Security.

A: There isn’t a tax break for a federal disability retiree unless he is totally disabled for all gainful employment. The retiree’s age has no bearing on that. Because OPM only determines whether an employee is no longer able to provide useful and efficient service in his current job or one at like grade and pay, and he isn’t eligible for a Social Security disability benefit, the Internal Revenue Service is the only agency that can make a determination on taxable disability income. You need to talk to an IRS representative in your area to find out how do that.


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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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