How does one add back in

social security benefits that were not included in income on line 5a  of their 1040 to

calculate MAGI for Covered CA or Medi-Cal?

Social Security, when calculating the Premium Tax Credit, (Subsidy) take the   MAGI-Modified Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)  is the bottom line number on line 8b #37 on your 1040 tax return then add back in the difference between line 5a & 5b of your 1040.

Please note that neither I nor Covered CA give tax advice.  Here’s where Covered CA’s advise caused someone to pay back $13k in subsidies.

​2019 1040 Form   

Line 8b Adjusted Gross income then add line 2a, 5a &

7a (Foreign Income)

to get Covered CA MAGI Income


2019 Schedule 1  Additional Income & Adjustments to Income

Summary of what is taxable (SSA.Gov)

Some people have to pay federal income taxes on their Social Security benefits. This usually happens only if you have other substantial income (such as wages, self-employment, interest, dividends and other taxable income that must be reported on your tax return) in addition to your benefits.

No one pays federal income tax on more than 85 percent of his or her Social Security benefits based on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules. If you:

  • file a federal tax return as an “individual” and your combined income* is
    • between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits.
    • more than $34,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.
  • file a joint return, and you and your spouse have a combined income* that is
    • between $32,000 and $44,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits
    • more than $44,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.
  • are married and file a separate tax return, you probably will pay taxes on your benefits.


Your adjusted gross income
+ Nontaxable interest
+ ½ of your Social Security benefits
= Your “combined income

Each January you will receive a Social Security Benefit Statement (Form SSA-1099) showing the amount of benefits you received in the previous year. You can use this Benefit Statement when you complete your federal income tax return to find out if your benefits are subject to tax.

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4 comments on “Social Security Benefits Line 5 a & b

  1. Is my 10,920 in Social Security added in as MAGI?

    I have 62,368 of Adjusted Gross Income.

    I read your article on it and there was a footnote 4. I couldn’t read it.

  2. I am currently on Medi-Cal.

    I may have the opportunity to increase my income to $1.980/mo. (Not sure if this matters – my current income includes early social security $720/mo. in which case, they will take back 50% of every dollar I make over $1,600/mo.)

    Need quote in case my income increases.

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