Do i have to report combined income after separation?

My wife and I separated during the year. My income comes from SSDI and an LTD policy from my past employer. My wife works and makes a modest salary as a teacher. In past years, filing a joint return and combining incomes caused us to pay a penalty due to SS law that says you cannot make x dollars over a certain amount.

Our divorce decree will not be finalized until next year–October 2016. For tax year 2015 should we file married separate or married head of household? We have no kids, no home etc… e.g. itemized deductions even with my medical expenses were never taken because the standard deduction was more. My thinking is that if we can file married separate or married head of household, I would not incur the SSDI penalty and she could get a tax refund. In general, is my line of thinking correct.

thank you

You certainly have the option of either filing married-separately or married-jointly. As for which would provide a greater return/lesser penalty, you would need to discuss this with a tax professional.