What Is Considered Countable Income For SSI?


Countable income for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can come from job wages, gifts of cash, food, or shelter, and/or passive income from financial investments.

SSI is a government assistance program that provides cash to individuals who have financial need and are also disabled, blind, or over age 65.


It is possible to qualify for SSI if you have money coming in from other sources, but this income can affect eligibility for social security programs including SSI if it is too high. This is because SSI is partially based on financial need; therefore, you will need to demonstrate that your assets and income fall beneath particular income limits to qualify.

Income limits for individuals are based on the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLA). These limits are $783 for individuals and $1,175 for couples in 2020.

The SSA has established rules to measure your income against this income limit. These rules consider the type of income you receive, the source of income, and other exclusions that affect how your income is counted.

Countable Income Type
Income can be earned or unearned, and both of these can be counted when calculating whether you qualify for SSI.

●       Earned income — Income that you receive from working at a job

●       Unearned income — Passive income that is given to you as a gift, or as interest or dividends on an investment

The most obvious and common type of countable income is cash; however, income does not have to be given to you in the form of cash to be counted by the SSA. Anything you receive that can be used as food or shelter, or as a means to obtain food or shelter, will also be counted toward the income limit.

For example, if someone provides you with a place to live rent-free and you are not planning to pay for it later, the value of rent is considered to be income because it provides you with shelter.

On the other hand, if you sign a loan agreement to pay back the rent, the rent value will not be counted as income by the SSA when considering your SSI application.

Income Sources Not Counted
Not all sources of income are considered countable income toward your SSI eligibility. For example, cash, food, or shelter received from the following sources are not calculated as part of your income:

●       Educational grants and scholarship money

●       Food stamp programs

●       Home energy assistance programs

●       HUD rent subsidies

●       Non-profit agencies

●       State or federal tax refund

Other Countable Income Exclusions
There are additional situations where earned or unearned income will be excluded from calculations of your income.

Earned income exclusions:

●       The first $65 earned per month from regular employment

●       Half of all income earned over and above the first $65

●       The first $30 earned per quarter from infrequent or irregular work

Unearned income exclusions:

●       The first $20 of unearned income you receive per month

●       Income received from need-based state or local assistance programs

●       The first $60 per quarter of unearned income that is received on an irregular basis

Understand the Rules Before Applying

The SSA has strict rules on what it considers countable income and the laws for SSI can be complex.  If you need help, contact a disability lawyer to help you with the process.

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What Is Considered Countable Income For SSI?
Countable income for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can come from job wages, gifts of cash, food, or shelter, and/or passive income from financial investments.
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