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Can I take the credit for the elderly or disabled?

This federal income tax credit is available if you are a qualified individual and your income falls within specified limits. You are a qualified individual if you are either (1) age 65 or older at the end of the tax year or (2) are under age 65 and retired on permanent and total disability. You must also be a U.S. citizen or resident to qualify for the credit. If you are married, you and your spouse must file a joint tax return to qualify. However, if you and your spouse lived apart for the entire year, you have the option of filing either a joint return or separate returns.

Qualifying on the basis of age is straightforward. To qualify as disabled, though, you should note that the IRS considers you retired on disability as of the date you stopped working because of your disability. You are considered permanently and totally disabled if (1) you can't engage in any substantial gainful activity due to either your physical or mental condition and (2) the condition has lasted or will last for a continuous period of not less than one year (or is expected to result in death). You should obtain a physician's statement certifying your disability.

To qualify for the credit, you must also meet income requirements. Your income and nontaxable Social Security (or other nontaxable pension) must fall below specified amounts that vary with your filing status.

For more information, see Schedule R of your Form 1040.