You're only eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits if your income falls under the SSI income limits. But income isn't just money you earn from a job. To level the playing field between SSI applicants, the Social Security Administration (SSA) counts the value of some free items as income—such as a room provided to you at no charge by a relative or friend.
But to encourage you to work and to account for some expenses, Social Security allows you to exclude some money from your countable income. Read on to learn what counts as income for SSI and what doesn't.
Social Security defines income as the amount of money you bring in as well as items you can use to get the following:
In addition to your "earned income" (money you earn from working), Social Security considers all of the following countable income for SSI purposes:
All of this income has to fall under the SSI income limit for you to qualify for SSI. And the SSA will calculate your countable income each month and subtract your countable income from the maximum SSI amount to come up with your monthly payment amount.
Social Security doesn't count some income and benefits when calculating your income for SSI eligibility. Social Security won't count the following income toward the SSI income limit :
Also, if you're a student under age 22, you can earn up to $2,220 per month—up to $8,950 per year (in 2023)—and it won't count as income for SSI purposes.
Social Security doesn't consider the following benefits to be countable income:
Note also that income set aside for an SSI "Plan for Achieving Self-Support" (PASS), a work incentive program, also isn't countable income. (Learn more about Social Security work incentive programs.)
For more information on what doesn't count as income for SSI, Social Security keeps an extensive list of earned and unearned income exclusions.
Updated June 27, 2023