Family income - what counts?

For a child to qualify for SSI, the family's income must be below a certain limit. But only some of the income will count.

This is complicated, but we'll walk you through it!

Deeming: How they figure it out:

  • Social Security assumes that a child shares in the parents' assets. Assets include income and other things they own. So they look at the income of parents and siblings who live in the same home. Then they figure out how much of this income counts as the child’s.
  • This is called deeming. SSI deems part of your income to your child. This amount will decide if the child qualifies for SSI, and how much they will get.
  • The deeming process is complicated. It’s like a tax form - only some kinds of income and resources count, and you will add these up. Then you may subtract (deduct) some things to reduce your total. The number you end up with is called your countable income: the amount that counts for deciding SSI.

How to calculate your countable income: 

1. Add up the monthly amounts for these types of income:

  • Earned income: paychecks, money from a job

  • Unearned income:  money from gifts, investments, or other government benefits

  • In-kind support: things like 'free' food and rent a parent provides to a family member.

  • Child support payments Family income, what counts?(unless assigned to a special needs trust).

2. Subtract (deduct) these amounts from your income:

  • $367/month for each other child in your home who is not disabled

  • $20/month if you have any income at all

  • $65/month if you have income from a job

What you have left is the total countable income. If it is less than than the limits below, then they'll 'deem' (count) the extra money leftover towards your child.

Countable income limits: 

  • $733 per month for a 1-parent home

  • $1,100 per month for a 2-parent home


Click the box below to see an example:

These are examples of things you can subtract from your income to figure out your countable income:

Image with the subject 'Your total monthy income' above the text 'Subtract $367 per month for each additional child you have in your home who does not have a disability. Example: If you have one child with a disability and two children without a disability, you could subtract $734 from your countable income. Subtract $20 per month if you have any income at all. Subtract $65 per month if you have income from a job. The result is your countable incomeImage with the subject 'Paula is a single parent. She has a job that brings in $1,500 a month. She has three children, one with a
disability and two without.' above the text 'From $1,500 total monthly income subtract $734 for her two children without a disability. Subtract $20 for having any income at all. Subtract $65 for having income from her job. The result, $681, is Paula’s countable income. Since Paual’s countable income is less than $733, her child with special needs would qualify for SSI benefits.'

For see more information on the Social Security webpage, click here (it opens in a new tab).

For the most part, children of parents who think they are low-income usually meet the SSI income rules. We suggest that you move forward with the application unless you are pretty sure that you make too much money for your child to qualify.