SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home2135. What are the earned income exclusions?

In figuring countable earned income, certain exclusions are authorized by other Federal laws and by Title XVI of the Social Security Act. Countable earned income can never be less than zero, nor can any earned income exclusion apply to unearned income.

We apply earned income exclusions in the following order:

  1. Exclusions authorized by Federal laws other than Title XVI;

  2. The full amount of any Federal earned income tax credit payments;

  3. The first $30 per calendar quarter of earned income if received infrequently or irregularly. For example, if the income is received only once during a calendar quarter from a single source and the individual did not receive it in the month immediately preceding that month or in the month immediately following that month regardless of whether or not the payments occur in different calendar quarters, or if its receipt cannot reasonably be expected (effective 9/8/06);

  4. Up to $1,640 in a month for 2010 (but no more than $6,800 per year) for a working student under age 22 and regularly attending school;

  5. Any portion of the $20 per month general income exclusion that is not used against unearned income in the same month;

  6. $65 of earned income;

  7. Impairment-related work expenses of a disabled (not blind) individual who:

    1. Is under age 65; or

    2. Received SSI based on a disability for the month before turning age 65;

  8. One-half of the month's remaining earned income;

  9. Any expenses reasonably attributable to the earning of income for a blind (not disabled) individual who:

    1. Is under age 65; or

    2. Received SSI because of blindness for the month before turning age 65; and

  10. Any earned income used to fulfill an approved Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) in the case of a blind or disabled individual who:

    1. Is under age 65; or

    2. Received SSI based on blindness or disability for the month before turning age 65.

NOTE: An eligible couple gets the same income exclusions as an eligible individual. However, the benefit rate is higher for an eligible couple.

Last Revised: Apr. 12, 2010