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My mom has alzheimers and has been living in a nursing home since February, 2012. She was a private pay client until her money ran out last July. Now she is on our state's version of Medicaid and she pays almost all of her monthly income to the nursing home and the state picks up the rest of the nursing home cost. She can keep $40 a month. Last year I filed income tax on her behalf. Does she have to file this year? Her yearly income is around $20,000 (hers and my late father's pensions) and virtually all of it goes to the nursing home. She does not collect Social Security. She is not eligible for SS because she is a retired teacher and our state does not allow teachers to collect Social Security. She can't get it through her late husband because he did not live long enough to become eligible for Social Security. So she has the 2 pensions which go to the nursing home.

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I found this on a government site:
Nothing keeps you from getting own Social Security benefit
 If you’ve worked for at least 10 years and earned a minimum of 40 work credits, you are vested in the Social Security system.
 Once you reach age 62, you will be eligible for your own Social Security benefit whether you’re married or not and whether your husband collects Social Security or not.
 Your retirement benefit is figured the same way a man’s retirement benefit is figured. It’s based on a percentage of your average monthly wage using a 35-year base of earnings. If you don’t have 35 years of earnings, we must substitute “zero” years to reach the 35-year base.
 If you become disabled before your full retirement age, you might qualify for Social Security disability benefits if you’ve worked and paid Social Security taxes in five of the preceding ten years.
 If you also get a pension from a job where you didn’t pay Social Security taxes (e.g., a civil service or teacher’s pension), your Social Security benefit might be reduced.
The last bullet explains my mom's situation. It doesn't seem fair, does it? But that's what we deal with in our state.
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My dad died in 1983. It would be pretty hard to dig this up. I assume it was all carried out correctly way back then. Mom had a lawyer who gave her advice. Maine law is pretty unfair to those of us who retire in the state retirement system. She remarried in 1988 and was and is still able to get my dad's pension. At this point, I don't see that it makes any difference. The social security $ she would receive would still be going towards her care. She can still keep just $40 a month and the rest goes to the nursing home.
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Deardau, I am wondering if your Mom can't get your dad's Soc.Sec.? I would think so. My mother has been married 3 times, all of whom have passed. She seemed to have her choice of whose Soc. Sec. she drew from. Sorry, I am so iffy.
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I took the big leap and took Mom to a tax preparer service this year as she lived all of 2011 with me in a new state. She had not filed taxes federal or state taxes for more than ten years in her old state, believing that it was not necessary because her income was so low. She only has social security and a small pension from Dad. I was more than a little worried. What a relief! Because the income was so low, they confirmed that she did not need to file federal or state (probably varies by state). The service was even gracious enough to document that she had asked and did not charge anything, even though the peace of mind would have been worth a consultation fee.
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Actually in Maine we don't opt out- we have no choice. My father died at 56 and I guess because Mom remarried, she only gets my dad's pension. Her second husband, 16 years younger than her, divorced her in 2011 (because of her Alzheimer's). He was only 63 at the time (Mom's 80 now). So she cannot get social security at all. In fact, she didn't qualify for Medicare or Medicaid until she ran out of money last summer. She had Anthem insurance only, even at her age. Both my husband and I will be in the same boat as we will retire as teachers in Maine.
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I wanted to add that I don't know if all the teacher pension is taxable. I know that most SS is not if people make little beyond SS. I'm not sure about teacher's pension, though.
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Deardau is correct. Teachers "opt out" of social security, instead putting money into the Teacher Retirement System. Many states have this -- I thought all did. In many states it is voluntary to opt out. Some teachers still get SS because they get a job after they retire from teaching. That is totally up to the teacher.

Deardau, I do believe you will have to file taxes for your mother. You will definitely want to itemize, since almost all money is going to her care at the NH. She shouldn't have any taxes do. I know it is a pain to file, but it is always a pain. I have had to do four returns this year and am burned out on doing them. I'm glad they only come around once a year.
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I don't really understand about "her husband did not live long enough to draw." That doesn't matter, does it?
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That sounds terrible for teachers. Does the state take social security tax out of your pay check?
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We live in Maine. I am a teacher as well as my husband, and no, we cannot get social security (or medicare) at retirement- it's considered double dipping in our state. And of course, the teachers' pension coffer is often drawn from to balance the state budget. There are a few states like ours.
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I've never heard of a state teacher's retirement program not allowing someone to collect Social Security which is is federal program. My mother is a retired teacher and she draws social security. What state is this?

I believe that a CPA would tell you that your mother's income from the two pensions is still taxable even with it all basically going to the nursing home with her on medicaid. I assume she was paying taxes on the income from those pensions before she went on medicaid.
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