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What Counts as Income in a Disability Claim?

As explained by the Social Security Administration (SSA), the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program exists to provide financial support to individuals “with limited income and resources.” SSI differs from SSDI in that there is a strict means test. SSI disability benefits are only available to people who have genuine financial needs.

For this reason, it is important to understand how income is calculated for the purposes of an SSI disability claim. You need to know whether or not you or a loved one can qualify for benefits. In this article, our Rogers Social Security disability attorney provides a guide to the key things to know about what counts as income for the purposes of Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

SSI Income: Defined 

Income is defined broadly for the purposes of the SSI program. The SSA emphasizes that income is “anything you receive during a calendar month and can use to meet your needs for food or shelter.” In other words, non-cash benefits (in-kind income) is also included in the definition of “income” for the purposes of the SSI program. For more information about how income and assets are determined for the purposes of SSI, contact an experienced Supplemental Security Income (SSI) attorney for immediate help.

Income and Countable Income are Different: Exclusions May Be Available

While the term income is defined broadly for the purposes of the Supplemental Security Income program, not all income is necessarily countable income. Indeed, there are some notable income exclusions for the SSI program. Not everything that a person receives in a given calendar year always counts as income. The SSA is clear: A benefit is generally not counted as income if it “cannot be used as, or to obtain, food or shelter.

For instance, imagine that a disabled person of limited financial means received free medical care from a public or private organization. That medical care is a potentially valuable benefit. However, it is typically not counted as income when the SSA determines an applicant’s eligibility for SSI disability benefits. As free medical care cannot be used to obtain food or shelter, it can usually be excluded from the SSI’s income calculations.

Understanding the Other SSI Income Exclusions

Beyond the exclusion for benefits that cannot be used to obtain food or shelter, the SSI program also allows for a few other limited exclusions. Specifically, an applicant may be able to exclude the following from an income/asset calculation:

  • The first $20 in “unearned” income in a given month;
  • The first $65 in “earned income in a given month; and
  • Public benefits are funded wholly by a state or local program.

Call Our Arkansas Supplemental Security Income Lawyers Today

At Gallo Cazort & Co. Law Firm, our Arkansas SSI attorneys have the professional skill that you can rely on. If you have any questions about SSI disability claims and income, we are here to help. Call us now or send us a direct message to arrange your no-cost, no-obligation case evaluation. We provide SSI representation throughout Northwest Arkansas, including in Rogers, Bentonville, Huntsville, Springdale, Fayetteville, Eureka Springs, Siloam Springs, and Little Flock.