When determining the amount of your disability payments, the Social Security Administration first looks at assets and benefits you already receive on a monthly basis. Countable income includes earned wages, “unearned” income, including state benefits, pensions, interest, etc., in-kind income, including free or low-cost food and shelter, and the income of others living in your household. If this income exceeds the allowable limit, you will not receive benefits. If the income is less than the limit, you will receive benefits, but your existing income will be subtracted from your payment amount.

What the SSA Leaves Out When Calculating Your Countable Income

While the list of what is considered countable income may feel like the SSA is counting every measly penny coming into your house, there are many forms of income the SSA excludes from their calculations, including the following:

  • The first $20 of most income
  • The first $65 of earned income plus an additional half of your monthly wages above $65
  • The value of food stamps
  • Income tax refunds
  • Grants, fellowships, or scholarships
  • Food and shelter provided by non-profits based on need
  • Special impairment-related work expenses that you pay for out of pocket
  • Home energy assistance
  • Disaster assistance

While these are the most common exceptions, a complete list of exclusions can be found here. Once these factors are taken into consideration, your countable income will be calculated and your benefits will be determined based on financial need.

Share Your Thoughts on the Process

In the comment section provided, please let us know how you feel about how the SSA determines countable income. You can also leave a few sentences expressing your concerns, any questions you may have, or any personal experiences that you have had with the SSA that you’d like to share.

Know someone who is having a rough time figuring out her benefits? Please, feel free to share this page with her via email. It’s our job to use our extensive knowledge and experience to help our clients get the support and advice they need; let us help your loved ones get what they deserve.

Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Boston, MA?

If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 508.283.5500 to schedule your free consultation.

John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer
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