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Supplemental Security Income (SSI Incentives)

f you’re on SSI, there are several work incentives you may qualify for. These include:

Allowances for earned income

When figuring your monthly benefits payment, SSI ignores the first $65 of your earned income, plus one-half of the remainder. This is called the Earned Income Exclusion. A combination of work income and SSI payments can mean more money for you than SSI payments alone.

The Student Earned Income Exclusion may apply if you regularly attend school and are under age 22. With this incentive, a certain amount of your earned income is excluded when SSA calculates your monthly SSI payments. The amount increases every year to keep pace with the increasing costs of education

Items and services you need to work

Maybe you can’t work without certain items or services, and you pay for them yourself. The Social Security Administration (SSA) refers to these costs as Impairment-Related Work Expenses, or IRWEs. Examples include attendant care, job coaching, special transportation or vehicle modifications, durable medical equipment such as a wheelchair, and home modifications such as ramps and railings.

If SSA determines you’re eligible for cash benefits they can exclude the money you pay for allowable IRWEs from your countable earnings.

Saving to achieve career goals

The Plan for Achieving Self-Support, or PASS, lets you set aside income in a special account and use the money to obtain items or services you need to achieve a specific employment goal. This money is excluded when SSA calculates your monthly payments. You must submit an application, have it approved by SSA, and only spend the money as allowed.

This incentive works best for people who have another source of money to pay for expenses beyond their basic living costs. One example is someone getting both SSI and SSDI payments.