Publication 915: Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits

Publication 915, also known as Pub 915, is an official guide published by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in collaboration with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (RRB).

What's the Purpose of Publication 915?

Publication 915 helps individuals understand whether any portion of their Social Security or equivalent railroad retirement benefits may be taxable for federal income tax purposes.

Who should use Publication 915?

Individuals who receive Social Security or railroad retirement benefits and need to file a federal income tax return.

Understanding Your Taxable Benefits

Publication 915, jointly published by the IRS, the Social Security Administration (SSA), and the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), explains the federal income tax rules for:

A. Social Security benefits: This includes monthly retirement, survivor, and disability benefits.

B. Equivalent Tier 1 railroad retirement benefits: These are benefits paid under the Railroad Retirement Act and are similar to Social Security benefits.

Key Points to Remember About Publication 915

A. Not all benefits are taxable: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments are not taxable.

B. Taxable portion depends on income: A formula determines the portion of your benefits that is taxable based on your "combined income." This is your adjusted gross income (AGI) plus half of your Social Security benefits and certain other income.

C. Worksheet helps calculate taxable benefits: Publication 915 provides a worksheet to help you determine the taxable portion of your benefits.

D. Form SSA-1099 shows benefits received: The SSA will send you Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefits Statement, which shows the total benefits you received during the year.