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SSI Unearned Income - Exclusions

As with earned income, certain unearned income exclusions are authorized by other Federal laws as well as by Title XVI. Countable unearned income can never be less than zero. However, there is one unearned income exclusion which can be applied to earned income (see (M) below).

NOTE: As of March 9, 2005, SSA does not count gifts of clothing as unearned income.


NOTE: On July 18, 2005, SSA issued Final Rules amending the SSI regulations by making technical revisions to rules on income and resources based on the Social Security Protection Act (SSPA) of 2004 and several other statutory changes. These revisions, among other things, clarify that certain types of unearned income are excluded when determining SSI unearned income and resources. These include unearned income from the following sources:
(1) Any matching funds and any interest earned on matching funds in an Individual Development Account (IDA), as provided for by the Community Opportunities, Accountability, and Training and Educational Services Act of 1998. These IDAs are funded by a demonstration project authorized by Public Law 105-285.
(2) Any earnings, TANF matching funds, and interest in an IDA, as provided for by section 103 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.

Unearned income exclusions are applied in the following order:

A. Exclusions authorized by Federal laws other than Title XVI. These include, but are not limited to, exclusion of most benefits provided under the:
1. Food Stamp Act (value of food coupons);
2. National School Lunch and Child Nutrition Acts;
3. Older Americans Act; and
4. National Housing Act (various types of Federal housing assistance).
5. Agent Orange Product Liability Litigation.
6. Radiation Exposure Compensation Trust Fund (RECTF).
7. Japanese-American and Aleutian Restitution Payments.
8. Payments to an individual from any source because of his or her status as a victim of Nazi persecution.

B. Any public agency's refund of taxes on real property or food.

C. Assistance based on need and funded wholly by a State and/or one of its political subdivisions (including Indian tribes). It is immaterial whether these payments are made directly to an individual or are paid to someone else on his or her behalf. This exclusion includes all State payments in supplementation of SSI.

D. Any portion of a grant, scholarship or fellowship used for paying tuition, fees or other necessary educational expenses. However, any amount set aside or actually used for food, clothing or shelter is not excluded.

E. Food raised by an individual or by his or her spouse if consumed by the household.

F. Assistance received under the Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act and assistance provided under any Federal statute because of a catastrophe declared by the President to be a major disaster (see 2137).

G. Up to $20 per month of unearned income if received infrequently or irregularly; i.e., if received only once during a calendar quarter from a single source or if its receipt cannot reasonably be expected.

H. Payments received by certain recipients under the Alaska Longevity Bonus program.

I. Payments to an individual for providing foster care to a child placed in the individual's home by a qualified agency.

J. Any interest earned on excluded burial funds and any appreciation in the value of an excluded burial arrangement which are left to accumulate and become part of the separately identifiable burial fund (see 2160).

K. Certain home energy and other needs-based support and maintenance assistance (see 2138).

L. One-third of support payments made by an absent parent to or for an eligible child (see SSA POMS SI 00830.420 B.1.).

M. The first $20 per month of an individual's total unearned income other than income based on need. Payments are based on need if the recipient's income is a factor in determining eligibility for the payments. (Any portion of this exclusion which cannot be used up against unearned income is applied against earned income received in the same month.)
NOTE: A needs-based payment funded solely by any combination of a State and its political subdivisions (including Indian tribes) is called "assistance based on need" and is excluded totally (see (C) above). A needs-based payment funded wholly or partially by a nongovernmental organization or by the Federal Government is called "income based on need" and does not qualify for this $20 general exclusion. (See 2138 for an exclusion which may apply to assistance provided by nonprofit organizations.)

N. Any unearned income used to fulfill an approved plan for achieving self-support in the case of a blind or disabled individual who is under age 65 or who received SSI on the basis of blindness or disability for the month of attainment of age 65 (see 2168 (D)).

O. Federal housing assistance, whether provided directly by the Federal Government or through other entities such as local housing authorities, nonprofit organizations, etc.

P. Any interest accrued on (or after April 1, 1990) and left to accumulate as part of the value of an excluded burial space purchase agreement.

Q. The value of any commercial transportation ticket received as a gift and not converted to cash (applies to travel among the 50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands).

R. Hostile fire pay from the Uniformed Services received in or after October 1993.

S. Payments received from a State fund to aid victims of crime.

T. Relocation assistance provided under Title II of the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisitions Policies Act of 1970.

U. Austrian Social Insurance payments that are based, in whole or in part, on wage credits received for certain losses suffered before and during World War II.

V. Payments made by the Dutch Government under the Netherlands Act on Benefits for Victims of Persecution 1940-1945 to individuals who were victims of persecution and as a result of that persecution are presently suffering from illnesses or disabilities.

NOTE: An eligible couple gets the same income exclusions as an eligible individual although there is a higher benefit rate for a couple.

This information is from Section 2136 of the SSA Handbook. Unless otherwise noted, section numbers refer to the SSA Handbook.

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