TIP SHEET

SSI Employment Supports

Individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits who are interested in becoming employed have access to supports built in by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that help protect their benefits. These supports range from specific income exclusions to programs that help individuals receive job training and employment supports to successfully become integrated into the workforce.

The benefit amount an individual receives from SSI is determined by the amount of income an individual earns. In many instances, an individual who becomes gainfully employed can continue to receive their SSI benefit. However, the benefit amount may be adjusted based on the income the individual earns.

General Income Exclusion (GIE)

The first $20 an individual earns in a month is not counted towards calculating the benefit amount an individual should receive on a given month. There is also a rule set by Social Security that $65 of earned income is not counted against an individual in determining the benefit amount for that month. SSA also deducts half of the remaining earnings in determining the benefit amount (see table below).

Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE)

Individuals who are under 22 years of age and are attending school, college, university, or a vocational training program are allowed to have limited earnings that won’t be counted against them in determining the benefit amount. The amount of earned income that can be excluded for 2018 is $1,820.00 a month. 

Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWE)

The law requires that certain items and services that an individual pays for that are needed in order to work be excluded from determining the benefit amount. Individuals can use earned income towards the purchase of attendant care services, medical devices, equipment, prostheses, and similar items and services. Medical services and medications may be deductible as long as they are needed for the control of the disabling condition and enable the person to work. 

Blind Work Expenses (BWE)

SSA will not count any earned income that is used for expenses related to items and services that an individual needs to get to work and to perform work related tasks. The maximum amount of earned income not counted as BWE for an individual is $1,950.00 for 2017. An individual is eligible for this benefit if they are legally blind. The expenses do not need to be related to blindness or disability.

Examples of BWE include:

  • Service animal expenses
  • Transportation to and from work
  • Federal, state, and local income taxes
  • Social Security taxes
  • Attendant case services
  • Visual and sensory aids
  • Translation of materials into Braille
  • Professional association fees
  • Union dues

The table below is used to calculate benefits with deductions as per SSA rules:

With $40 BWE With $40 IRWE and $40 BWE
$735: 2017 Federal Benefit Rate $735: 2017 Federal Benefit Rate
$361: Earned income $361: Earned Income
-$20: General Income Exclusion -$20: General Income Exclusion
-$65: Earned Income Exclusion -$65: Earned Income Exclusion
  -$40: IRWE
-$138: Half of Remaining Earnings -118: Half of Remaining Earnings
-$40: BWE -$40: BWE
$98: Countable Income $78: Countable Income
$735: 2017 Federal Benefit Rate $735: 2017 Federal Benefit Rate
-$98: Countable Income -$78: Countable Income
$637: SSI Payment $657: SSI Payment
CATEGORY
Family Support, Financial Support, Working and Adult Life, Adult systems and services
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