IRS Tax Forms  
Publication 525 2001 Tax Year

Sickness & Injury Benefits

Generally, you must report as income any amount you receive for personal injury or sickness through an accident or health plan that is paid for by your employer. If both you and your employer pay for the plan, only the amount you receive that is due to your employer's payments is reported as income. However, certain payments may not be taxable to you. For information on nontaxable payments, see Military and Government Disability Pensions and Sickness and Injury Benefits, later in this discussion.

Cost paid by you. If you pay the entire cost of an accident or health plan, do not include any amounts you receive from the plan for personal injury or sickness as income on your tax return. If your plan reimbursed you for medical expenses you deducted in an earlier year, you may have to include some, or all, of the reimbursement in your income. See Recoveries under Miscellaneous Income, later.

Cafeteria plans. Generally, if you are covered by an accident or health insurance plan through a cafeteria plan, and the amount of the insurance premiums was not included in your income, you are not considered to have paid the premiums and you must include any benefits you receive in your income. If the amount of the premiums was included in your income, you are considered to have paid the premiums and any benefits you receive are not taxable.

Disability Pensions

If you retired on disability, you must include in income any disability pension you receive under a plan that is paid for by your employer. You must report your taxable disability payments as wages on line 7 of Form 1040 or Form 1040A until you reach minimum retirement age. Minimum retirement age generally is the age at which you can first receive a pension or annuity if you are not disabled.

TaxTip: You may be entitled to a tax credit if you were permanently and totally disabled when you retired. For information on this credit, see Publication 524, Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled.

Beginning on the day after you reach minimum retirement age, payments you receive are taxable as a pension or annuity. Report the payments on lines 16a and 16b of Form 1040, or on lines 12a and 12b of Form 1040A. For more information on pensions and annuities, get Publication 575.

Retirement and profit-sharing plans. If you receive payments from a retirement or profit-sharing plan that does not provide for disability retirement, do not treat the payments as a disability pension. The payments must be reported as a pension or annuity.

Accrued leave payment. If you retire on disability, any lump-sum payment you receive for accrued annual leave is a salary payment. The payment is not a disability payment. Include it in your income in the tax year you receive it.

Military and Government Disability Pensions

Certain military and government disability pensions are not taxable.

Service-connected disability. You may be able to exclude from income amounts you receive as a pension, annuity, or similar allowance for personal injury or sickness resulting from active service in one of the following government services.

  • The armed forces of any country.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  • The Public Health Service.
  • The Foreign Service.

Conditions for exclusion. Do not include the disability payments in your income if any of the following conditions apply.

  1. You were entitled to receive a disability payment before September 25, 1975.
  2. You were a member of a listed government service or its reserve component, or were under a binding written commitment to become a member, on September 24, 1975.
  3. You receive the disability payments for a combat-related injury. This is a personal injury or sickness that:
    1. Results directly from armed conflict,
    2. Takes place while you are engaged in extra-hazardous service,
    3. Takes place under conditions simulating war, including training exercises such as maneuvers, or
    4. Is caused by an instrumentality of war.
  4. You would be entitled to receive disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) if you filed an application for it. Your exclusion under this condition is equal to the amount you would be entitled to receive from the VA.

Pension based on years of service. If you receive a disability pension based on years of service, you generally must include it in your income. But if it is a result of active service in one of the listed government services and one of the listed conditions applies, do not include in income the part of your pension that you would have received if the pension had been based on a percentage of disability. You must include the rest of your pension in your income.

Retroactive VA determination. If you retire from the armed services based on years of service and are later given a retroactive service-connected disability rating by the VA, your retirement pay for the retroactive period is excluded from income up to the amount of VA disability benefits you would have been entitled to receive. You can claim a refund of any tax paid on the excludable amount (subject to the statute of limitations) by filing an amended return on Form 1040X for each previous year during the retroactive period.

If you receive a lump-sum disability severance payment and are later awarded VA disability benefits, do not include in your income the portion of the severance payment equal to the VA benefit you would have been entitled to receive in that same year. However, you must include in your income any lump-sum readjustment or other nondisability severance payment you received on release from active duty, even if you are later given a retroactive disability rating by the VA.

Terrorist attack. Do not include in your income disability payments you receive for injuries resulting directly from a violent attack that occurs while you are a U.S. government employee performing official duties outside the United States. For your disability payments to be tax exempt, the Secretary of State must determine the attack was a terrorist attack.

Caution: As this publication was being prepared for print, Congress was considering legislation that would provide tax relief for any individual whose death or injuries resulted from a terrorist or military action outside or within the United States. For more information, see Publication 3920.

Long-Term Care Insurance Contracts

Long-term care insurance contracts are generally treated as accident and health insurance contracts. Amounts you receive from them (other than policyholder dividends or premium refunds) generally are excludable from income as amounts received for personal injury or sickness. To claim an exclusion for payments made on a per diem or other periodic basis under a long-term care insurance contract, you must file Form 8853 with your return.

A long-term care insurance contract is an insurance contract that only provides coverage for qualified long-term care services. The contract must:

  • Be guaranteed renewable,
  • Not provide for a cash surrender value or other money that can be paid, assigned, pledged, or borrowed,
  • Provide that refunds, other than refunds on the death of the insured or complete surrender or cancellation of the contract, and dividends under the contract may be used only to reduce future premiums or increase future benefits, and
  • Generally not pay or reimburse expenses incurred for services or items that would be reimbursed under Medicare, except where Medicare is a secondary payer or the contract makes per diem or other periodic payments without regard to expenses.

Qualified long-term care services. Qualified long-term care services are:

  • Necessary diagnostic, preventive, therapeutic, curing, treating, mitigating, rehabilitative services, and maintenance and personal care services, and
  • Required by a chronically ill individual and provided pursuant to a plan of care prescribed by a licensed health care practitioner.

Chronically ill individual. A chronically ill individual is one who has been certified by a licensed health care practitioner within the previous 12 months as one of the following.

  1. An individual who, for at least 90 days, is unable to perform at least two activities of daily living without substantial assistance due to loss of functional capacity. Activities of daily living are eating, toileting, transferring, bathing, dressing, and continence.
  2. An individual who requires substantial supervision to be protected from threats to health and safety due to severe cognitive impairment.

Limit on exclusion. The exclusion for payments made on a per diem or other periodic basis under a long-term care insurance contract is subject to a limit. The limit applies to the total of these payments and any accelerated death benefits made on a per diem or other periodic basis under a life insurance contract because the insured is chronically ill. (For more information on accelerated death benefits, see Life Insurance Proceeds under Miscellaneous Income, later.)

Under this limit, the excludable amount for any period is figured by subtracting any reimbursement received (through insurance or otherwise) for the cost of qualified long-term care services during the period from the larger of the following amounts.

  • The cost of qualified long-term care services during the period.
  • The dollar amount for the period ($200 per day for any period in 2001).

See section C of Form 8853 and its instructions for more information.

Workers' Compensation

Amounts you receive as workers' compensation for an occupational sickness or injury are fully exempt from tax if they are paid under a workers' compensation act or a statute in the nature of a workers' compensation act. The exemption also applies to your survivors. The exemption, however, does not apply to retirement plan benefits you receive based on your age, length of service, or prior contributions to the plan, even if you retired because of an occupational sickness or injury.

Caution: If part of your workers' compensation reduces your social security or equivalent railroad retirement benefits received, that part is considered social security (or equivalent railroad retirement) benefits and may be taxable. For a discussion of the taxability of these benefits, see Other Income under Miscellaneous Income, later.

Return to work. If you return to work after qualifying for workers' compensation, payments you continue to receive while assigned to light duties are taxable. Report these payments as wages on line 7 of Form 1040 or Form 1040A, or on line 1 of Form 1040EZ.

Disability pension. If your disability pension is paid under a statute that provides benefits only to employees with service-connected disabilities, part of it may be workers' compensation. That part is exempt from tax. The rest of your pension, based on years of service, is taxable as pension or annuity income. If you die, the part of your survivors' benefit that is a continuation of the workers' compensation is exempt from tax.

Other Sickness and Injury Benefits

In addition to disability pensions and annuities, you may receive other payments for sickness or injury.

Railroad sick pay. Payments you receive as sick pay under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act are taxable and you must include them in your income. However, do not include them in your income if they are for an on-the-job injury.

Black lung benefit payments. These payments are similar to workers' compensation and generally are not taxable.

Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA). Payments received under this Act for personal injury or sickness, including payments to beneficiaries in case of death, are not taxable. However, you are taxed on amounts you receive under this Act as continuation of pay for up to 45 days while a claim is being decided. Report this income on line 7 of Form 1040 or Form 1040A, or on line 1 of Form 1040EZ. Also, pay for sick leave while a claim is being processed is taxable and must be included in your income as wages.

You can deduct the amount you spend to buy back sick leave for an earlier year to be eligible for nontaxable FECA benefits for that period. It is a miscellaneous deduction subject to the 2% limit on Schedule A (Form 1040). If you buy back sick leave in the same year you used it, the amount reduces your taxable sick leave pay. Do not deduct it separately.

Other compensation. Many other amounts you receive as compensation for sickness or injury are not taxable. These include the following amounts.

  • Compensatory damages you receive for physical injury or physical sickness, whether paid in a lump sum or in periodic payments. See Court awards and damages under Other Income, later.
  • Benefits you receive under an accident or health insurance policy on which either you paid the premiums or your employer paid the premiums but you had to include them in your income.
  • Disability benefits you receive for loss of income or earning capacity as a result of injuries under a no-fault car insurance policy.
  • Compensation you receive for permanent loss or loss of use of a part or function of your body, or for your permanent disfigurement. This compensation must be based only on the injury and not on the period of your absence from work. These benefits are not taxable even if your employer pays for the accident and health plan that provides these benefits.

Reimbursement for medical care. A reimbursement for medical care is generally not taxable. However, it may reduce your medical expense deduction.

If you receive reimbursement for an expense you deducted in an earlier year, see Recoveries, later.

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