Affordable Care Act: Does Social Security count as income?

“My father will be 64 February of 2014 and lives in Florida.  I was told that an individual may qualify for a healthcare subsidy based on income. My father retired at the age of 62. He receives monthly Social Security benefits that total $18,768 at the end of the year. According to what I have read, SS benefits are not taxable. He does not file taxes because there is nothing to file.  Is there any other way of being eligible for the healthcare subsidy?” 

Trying to Help Dear Old Dad

 Dear Trying To Help,

Your father’s Social Security income will be counted as income for calculating his subsidies.  The income does not have to be taxed in order to be counted as “income” for health insurance subsidies. lists the following as the definition of Modified Adjusted Gross Income:  “Generally, modified adjusted gross income is your adjusted gross income plus any tax-exempt Social Security, interest, or foreign income you have.”  (Emphasis added.)

At $18,768, your father is just over 150% of Federal Poverty and would qualify for subsidies to pay the monthly premiums.  He can also qualify for help paying his deductible and co-pays.  To get this additional help, he would need to select a “Silver” plan.

You did not mention what your father is doing currently for his health insurance.  If he has a retiree plan offered to him, he will not qualify for any subsidies.  Only people who have no employer-based plan are allowed to purchase a plan on the subsidized exchange. You may want to find a health insurance agent to help you navigate through his options, on or off the exchange.


Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.