Income - what counts? (age 18+)

To qualify for SSI, a person's income must be below a certain limit.

If you are applying for a child or family member who is over 18, you only count their income and resources.

Social Security doesn't count all kinds of income, but what they do count decides:

  • if your family member can get SSI, and

  • how much SSI they get

Image showing the text 'What counts?' above the list 'paychecks, benefits, free food or shelter, money counted towards your from a spouse or parent. Less than $1,130 (or if blind, $1,820)'

What's the bottom line? If the monthly countable income your family member earns or receives is less than $1,130, then they would be eligible based on income.

The process is a bit like a tax form. Only some kinds of income count, and you will add these up. Then you may subtract (deduct) some things to reduce the total (good news for you!) The total 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: money earned from work.

  • Unearned income: money from sources other than work (including child support).

  • In-kind income: food or shelter paid for by parents or others.

2. Subtract (deduct) these amounts from your income:
  • $20 a month (of most income)

  • $65 a month earned from working, and half the amount over $65.

  • Money for other benefits programs, such as SNAP, TANF, and LIHEAP. (These don't count as income.)

Social Security also allows you to deduct about half of your family member's earned income, and certain work-related expenses called Impairment-Related Work Expenses (IRWE), Blind Work Expenses (BWE), or Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) expenses.

The bottom line is that the countable income limits for adults 18 or older are:

  • Non-blind: $1,130 per month

  • Blind: $1,820 per month


Want help with the math? 

Click the link at the bottom of the page to download the Worksheet. It will open as an Excel file. Fill it out as best as you can, and it will do the math for you.

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The worksheets in this Guide are only an estimate. You'll have to fill out the real SSI Application to find out for sure if you qualify. We'll show you how to do that. 


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