What is considered income for SSI purposes?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based program for those who need disability benefits, but in general, have not worked in the past. Whether or not a person is eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is dependent on their income and resources, that is, the person’s belongings. What constitutes income for the purposes of applying for SSI?

Keep in mind that income requirements for SSI depend in part on the state that the person lives in. But in general, income includes the money a person brings into the household via their wages or salary. Also included as income are pensions and Social Security benefits. Food and shelter are also counted as income. If a person is married, at least a part of his or her spouse’s income and resources will be counted as income. Similarly, if the person applying for benefits is under 18-years-old, part of his or her parents’ income and resources will be counted as income. Also, if the applicant is a sponsored noncitizen, the sponsor’s income and resources may be counted as income.

However, there are certain things that the Social Security Administration (SSA) will not count as income. For example, the first $20 per month of income a person receives will not count as income. In addition, the first $65 per month a person makes from working and following that 50 percent of the amount over $65 the person earns from working will not count as income. If a person receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, these are not counted as income. If a person’s source of shelter is a private nonprofit organization, this will not count as income. Also, if the person is a student, a portion of the scholarships or wages he or she receives may not count as income.

Remember, not only will a person’s income be considered when determining whether to award SSI benefits, but also the person’s resources be considered. We’ll discuss what counts as resources in a later post, but as you can see, what does and does not count as income can be complex. It is important to understand the requirements when applying for SSI benefits, to increase your chances that your application will be approved.