See Countable Income and Countable Earnings Overview for a discussion of the different ways in which the terms are used in the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) programs.
Here we look at "Countable Income" as it is used in the SSI program to affect the amount of your SSI Cash Benefit.
Countable income consists of both unearned and earned income. It is calculated as follows:
Non-excluded Unearned Income is reduced by subtracting the $20 General Income Exclusion. Countable Unearned Income can not be less than zero, so any amount of the General Income Exclusion not used to reduce unearned income is used to reduce earned income (as shown below).
Earned Income is income from wages, salary, or net income from self-employment.
However, certain earnings are not included. For example, refunds for the Earned Income Tax Credit are not counted. Also not counted are other earnings excluded by federal law, such as some Workforce Investment Act (WIA) [formerly Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA)] programs and some educational work-study programs. Contact your SSA Claims Representative if you are participating in a federal program in which earnings may be excluded.
Earned income is first reduced by any amount that can be counted as a Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE). Then it is then reduced by the $65 Earned Income Exclusion (and by any part of the $20 General Income Exclusion that was not already used to reduce Unearned Income).
For SSI recipients who are not blind, their earned Income is further reduced by the amount of disability-related work expenses, if any, that SSA agrees can be counted as an Impairment Related Work Expense (IRWE).
The result is then divided by two. This amount is the "Countable Earned Income" for SSI recipients who are not blind.
For SSI recipients who are blind, Blind Work Expenses (BWE) rather than Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWE) are used to reduce their earned income to calculate their "Countable Earned Income." And the BWE is subtracted after reducing the amount by 1/2 rather than before (which means that a BWE can reduce countable earnings by twice as much as can an IRWE).
The Countable Unearned Income is then added to the Countable Earned Income. The result is then reduced by any amount of your monthly income included in an approved Plan for Achieving Self Support (PASS).
The result is your Countable Income.
If you are an SSI recipient, your countable income is subtracted from your Federal Benefit Rate (FBR) to determine the amount of your federal cash benefit.
For more information see: Calculating your SSI Cash Benefit.
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