I sometimes find it amazing how much misinformation can be in the mainstream news media on how working Americans can not contribute to an IRA if they are covered by a retirement plan at work. This is simply not true. Any farmer that has earnings in excess of $5,000 ($6,000 if over age 49 and want to take full advantage of the amount they can contribute) can contribute to an IRA no matter if they are covered by a retirement plan or how much their adjusted gross income is.
The potential drawback if covered by a retirement plan AND your income is too high, then the IRA contribution may not be fully deductible.
If you are not covered by a retirement plan, you can make a deductible IRA contribution no matter what your gross income is. If one spouse is covered by a retirement plan, the other spouse can make and deduct an IRA if the total gross income is less than $173,000 (these are all 2012 numbers).
If both husband and wife is covered by a retirement plan, then you can still contribute to an IRA, but it is only 100% deductible if your adjusted gross income is less than $92,000. It is phased out between $92,000 and $112,000. For single taxpayers, the phaseout starts at $58,000 and ends at $68,000.
Remember, if y0u have earned income in excess of $6,000, you can make an IRA contribution, you just may not be able to deduct it.