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My husband is mentally disabled, can I claim him as a dependent?

I am 68 years old and retired living on SSI and my pension.  My husband is 58 years old and is retired with a pension.  He developed a mental illness 3 years ago and cannot care for himself.  I provide all of his care including rent for an apartment (as we can't live together because of the nature of his disability).  Can I claim him as a dependent on my taxes?

3 Replies

My husband is mentally disabled, can I claim him as a dependent?

A spouse can never be claimed as a dependent.

If you are legally married then you can only file as Married Filing Jointly or Married Filing Separately.  You would want to file as Married Filing Joint even if one spouse has little or no income.  Your tax rate (bracket) is lower when filing as MFJ versus MFS.

My husband is mentally disabled, can I claim him as a dependent?

You may qualify for a credit for the elderly or disabled, be sure to mark your spouse as disabled on their personal information screen.  Also, if you paid someone to care for him so you could go to work, you may be eligible for the child and dependent care credit, even though he is not a tax dependent. 

*Answers are correct to the best of my ability at the time of posting but do not constitute legal or tax advice.*
Level 15

My husband is mentally disabled, can I claim him as a dependent?

There is a credit for the elderly or disabled (you don't have to be both). But because it has not been adjusted for inflation since 1983, very very few people qualify. If you qualify, TurboTax (TT) will automatically calculate it. It goes on Schedule 3, line 6d (2021-2). It is not a refundable credit. That is, you must have a tax liability to offset to get the credit. Very few people, with that little income have an actual tax to offset. 

 Having any social security income at all works against you. Essentially your potential credit is reduced by any tax you "shoulda paid” on the untaxed Social security income. If you have more than $5000 social security ($7500 Married Filing Jointly and both are elderly or disabled) or VA benefits you will not qualify for the credit.

If you think you qualify, and TT missed it, In TurboTax (TT), enter at:

Federal Taxes Tab

Deductions & Credits

-Scroll down to:

--Other deductions & Credits

  -Elderly or Disabled credit

See schedule R for detailed calculations. https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040sr.pdf

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