Some types of income affect your SSI check. Some don’t. Below is a long and detailed list of everything you can and cannot do and what will or won’t happen when you do it. Before getting started, let’s do a quick check to make sure you are on the right page:
🌷 If you are reading here because you are interested in working and want to know the work rules, check out this page: Working While on Disability
🌷 If you are on SSDI (and not on SSI), you are lucky because you do not need to follow all the SSI financial rules. In fact, you do not need to read the rest of this page. Here’s something that might interest you more: Everything No One Ever Tells You About Living on Social Security Disability
🌷 If you don’t know if you are on SSI or SSDI, you are not alone. Am I On SSI or SSDI?
School Financial Aid
Student Loans – Student loans do not affect SSI. The loan does not need to be used for educational expenses. Many students use loans to pay for food, housing, transportation, or other other expenses while they are in school. If you already have student loans and you are having difficulty, there are some programs that assist people who are low-income or disabled. Check out: How to Escape Student Loans
Grants, Fellowships, Scholarships, Tuition Money – Depends. Any money used directly for educational expenses will NOT affect SSI. Any money used for other purposes, may or may not affect SSI. It will depend on where the funds came from. Some type of grants (such as pell grants, work study, and state education assistance) do not count. Here is the policy on which kinds of grants count. Also, please check out: What Does Social Security Consider an “Educational Expense”?
Working – Working will usually lower your check, but you may still wind up ahead. In many situations, for every $2 you earn, your check will be lowered by $1. There are a lot of other things you need to know. Please take a look at this link.
PASS plans – Work income can be placed into a PASS plan and your SSI check will not go down, even if you work or receive income.
Impairment–Related Work Expenses – If you are working and spend money on things that help you work. Can be anything disability related – special transportation, any items you need, hiring someone to provide assistance, extra medications, medical equipment, etc. If you are blind there are also Special SSI Rule for Blind People Who Work. Learn more about: What counts as an Impairment Related Expense?
Self Employment – Social Security will consider the amount of profit you earned after your business expenses. Any money you earned and spent on business-related expenses will not make your check go down. For a home-based business, this might include part of your rent, utilities, internet, computers, etc.
Gifts, Inheritance & Money from Others
Gifts & Inheritance – If someone gives you money, your SSI check goes down. Sometimes! These are the programs that allow you to receive gifts or money without affecting your SSI. There are also certain types of gifts that do not count.
Live-in Spouse Pays Your Bills or Gives You Gifts – If you live with your spouse, their income will already be taken into account. It will not matter if they pay your bills or give you gifts.
Someone Else Paying Your Bills – In certain situations, someone else can pay your bills without this affecting your SSI. However, it depends which bills they pay.
Spouse’s Income – If you live with your spouse, in most situations their income will impact your SSI check. This is called “deeming.” There are some exceptions to the deeming rules in the link above.
Parent’s Income – If you are under age 18 and you live with your parents, in most situations their income will impact your SSI check. This is called “deeming.” There are some exceptions to the deeming rules in the link above.
Living with Other People – If you live with other people (not spouse, not parent of minor) in most situations, their income will not impact your check. But wait! There are some times when someone else’s income will affect you. Please see link above.
Other Forms of Income
Government and Nonprofit Assistance – Food Stamps, HUD Housing, Utilities Assistance and most other government and nonprofit programs will not impact your SSI. Many programs are listed in this link. You are allowed to receive food, housing and most other forms of assistance from nonprofit and government agencies. You are also allowed to receive reimbursements for paid expenses. Policies on Excluded Income
Reassessing Your SSI Check – If your SSI check is not at maximum, it is good to check and understand what is lowering it, and make sure Social Security has all your correct and accurate information. How Much is Maximum SSI?
PASS plans – Income from any source can be placed in a PASS plan to save for an employment goal. For example: Work income, SSDI, financial aid, or any other kind of income. Your SSI check will not go down, even if you receive income. You do not need to be working to open a PASS plan. You do need to be planning to work, or planning to go to school to learn skills that will help you work.
There are many more small and obscure policies of things that will be excluded as income. Examples:
- $20 per month from any source
- $65 per month from working
- Income tax refunds
- Disaster assistance
- Insurance payments or other money to replace lost, damage or stolen items
- Selling a home to buy a new home (within 3 months)
- Certain clinical trials
- Selling resources or personal belongings
- If you are student under the age of 22, you can have more income through a Student Earned Income Exclusion
- Certain Indian Trust fund payment
- Small amounts of infrequent income ($30 per calendar earned income; $60 per calendar quarter earned income)
- See links below for more types of excluded income
- Types of Excluded Income
- Yet More Types of Excluded Income
- Links to Policies on Unearned Income Exclusions
Warning: Even if something does not count as income, if you keep the money, next month it can start counting as a resource. How to Tell the Difference Between the (Super Confusing) Income and Resource Rules for SSI
The income rules are completely and totally different than the resource rules!! If you are interested in learning more about resources, check out: How Will Savings and Resources Affect My SSI Check?
Income That Can Cause Problems
These things can lower your check. If you do any of these things, you need to notify Social Security. Your check may be lowered, or you may owe money back.
- Someone pays your share of rent, mortgage, groceries, or utilities.
- Someone gives you free rent, food or utilities.
- There are a few exceptions to the rent rules.
- Someone gives you cash or check for any reason
- You receive income from working
- Learn More: I’m on SSI. Can someone pay my bills?
Special Notes About Child Support
- Child Support if the Parent is on SSI – Child Support income will not affect the parent’s SSI, as long as the money is spent on the child. In other words, you can spend it on the child’s share of food rent and utilities, but should not spend it on your share of food, rent and utilities. If you keep the money in a bank account with your name on it, be careful that you do not go over your SSI resource limit.
- Child Support if the Child is on SSI – Child Support can reduce or eliminate SSI and Medicaid. There are other options: Protecting SSI from Child Support
- If you are on SSI and your child has savings, do NOT hold these savings in a joint account or Social Security will count this savings as yours. According to the regulations, Social Security will only recognize it as the child’s money if the bank account is set up in a special way to show the child as the only owner.
🌷 If you are feeling confused or you are being told conflicting information, there’s a very good chance this is happening because someone is mixing up the resource room with the income rules. Totally different rules! How to Tell the Difference Between the Income and Resource Rules
🌷 It’s also possible someone is mixing up the SSI rules with the SSDI rules. Also totally different rules! How to Tell Understand the Difference Between SSI and SSDI
🌷 Lots more SSI policies it may help you to know: How to Stay Out of Hot Water with SSI
🌷 Financial survival while on SSI. Not easy! Not impossible! How to Survive on SSI
Updated July 2018. Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working.