The Social Security Administration’s policies on including and excluding certain types of income are very confusing. In order to qualify for SSI, you must meet both the financial and medical qualifications set forth by the Social Security Administration. These financial qualifications analyze both an applicant’s income as well as their assets. The income limit is extremely low but fortunately, not all money that comes into the household is considered "income" by the Social Security Administration.
To understand which income is not counted and which income is excluded, you must first understand SSA's categories, or types of income:
1. Earned Income: is defined as income earned through wages, self-employment, certain royalties and honoraria, and sheltered workshop payments.
2. Unearned Income: is money that comes to you, but is not payment for work performed. Examples may include unemployment benefits, social security benefits, disability benefits, interest income, pension benefits, and cash from friends and relatives.
3. In-Kind Income: In-Kind Income is any shelter or food that you receive at a discount or free of charge. (Note: SSA does NOT count food stamps as income.)
4. Deemed Income: Deemed Income is income that you do not earn or bring in. It is income earned by your spouse (or parent if you are a child), who you live with. Part of this income is used when the SSA considers your benefit amount as well as your qualification for benefits.
Finally, there are specific exclusion that the SSA will not count as income and the most common are listed below:
· The first $65 of earned income, if applying as an individual.
· The first $20 of unearned income received in a month.
· Income that you use for special impairment-related work expenses for the blind and/or disabled.
· Income that you will use for a Plan to Achieve Self Support (PASS) that was pre-approved by the social security administration and you are disabled or blind.
· State or Local Assistance for food or shelter.
· HUD subsidies.
· The value of food stamps received.
· Income Tax Refunds and Tax Credits.
· Assistance, based on need, that is wholly funded by the government. (i.e. telephone, electric, or medical bills paid by a local charity whose funding comes from a federal grant).
· Loans given to you that you have to repay.
· Grants, Scholarships, and other education related assistance.
· One-third of child support payments made by an absent parent.
· The first $1,730 per month of earned income for a student under the age of 22 under the Student Earned Income Exclusion.
The income rules for SSI are complex but ultimately very important towards receiving the maximum amount of benefits possible. If you would like more information, speak with a social security disability lawyer to help you understand your eligibility and assist you in receiving the most benefits possible.