Have a Tax Question? Ask a Tax Expert
It may not be a good idea for you to convert. Here is why:
From http://www.marketwatch.com/: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/12-traps-to-avoid-when-converting-to-a-roth-2010-01-21?dist=beforebell
"You might have to pay higher Medicare premiums or have your Social Security payments taxed if you do a Roth IRA conversion. That can happen if you are receiving these benefits and do a Roth conversion, Slott said.
"In general, Social Security benefits are excluded from the gross income of a taxpayer and are therefore not taxed," he said. "However, depending on how much other income an individual has, anywhere from 50% all the way up to 85% of their Social Security income can be included in gross income, resulting in a higher tax bill for that year."
What's more, he said, "Medicare Part B premiums are based on income. For 2010, joint taxpayers will remain at the lowest premium levels as long as they have income of $170,000 or less ($85,000 for those filing single). From there, premiums progressively increase until joint taxpayers have above $428,000 in income ($214,000 for those filing single). Conversion of a large IRA or plan balance could move you into a higher premium bracket, potentially costing a couple around $6,000 extra in Medicare premiums for 2010."
So, this may be why your advisers are indicating you should not convert to a ROTH IRA.
Thank you for clarifying what you were asking.
No, you cannot.
"Question: Are contributions to Roth IRAs limited by "earned" income in the same manner that contributions to traditional IRAs are?
Answer: Yes. You must have earned income at least equal to the amount you contribute to Roth accounts for the year. Net income from self-employment counts just the same as wage or salary income. If you file jointly, you and your spouse can each contribute $5,000 for 2010 as long as one spouse (or both) has at least $10,000 of earned income. As explained above, you can contribute another $1,000 if you are age 50 or older as of 12/31/2010.
This is from this article:
Roth IRAs: You Wanted to Know at SmartMoney.com http://www.smartmoney.com/Personal-Finance/Retirement/Roth-IRAs-You-Wanted-to-Know-7967/#ixzz0jtGAamRP
Pages 28 - 29 of IRS Publication 590 discusses conversions - http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p590.pdf