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IRS.gov Website
Publication 554
taxmap/pubs/p554-010.htm#en_us_publink100036533

Social Security Benefits (including lump-sum payments attributable to prior years), Supplemental Security Income Benefits, and Lump‐Sum Death Benefits(p20)

rule
The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides benefits such as old‐age benefits, benefits to disabled workers, and benefits to spouses and dependents. These benefits may be subject to federal income tax depending on your filing status and other income. See Pub. 915 for more information. An individual originally denied benefits, but later approved, may receive a lump-sum payment for the period when benefits were denied (which may be prior years). See Pub. 915 for information on how to make a lump‐sum election, which may reduce your tax liability. There are also other types of benefits paid by the SSA. However, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and lump‐sum death benefits (one‐time payment to spouse and children of deceased) are not subject to federal income tax. For more information on these benefits, go to www.socialsecurity.gov.
Social security benefits are includible in gross income if (a) you are married filing a separate return and you lived with your spouse at any time in 2015 or (b) one-half of your social security benefits plus your other gross income and any tax-exempt interest is more than $25,000 ($32,000 if married filing jointly).