Countable Income Test

What does Countable Income Test mean?

Evaluating Countable Income

As mentioned above, SSI benefits are only paid to claimants who have very limited income and resources. If a person’s countable income is too high they will be ineligible for SSI benefits. Unfortunately, however, the rules for determining a person's “countable income” can be complicated because the SSA does not consider all income “countable income.”

So what income is considered countable?

  • Income earned performing work.
  • Benefit payments from the Veteran’s Administration, Social Security Administration, pensions, spousal support, and child support.
  • In-kind income given to you from a non-governmental source for food or shelter.
  • Income earned by other members of your household which are used to provide food and shelter for you. This type of income is considered deemed income and can reduce your benefit eligibility.

Calculating your Income Level

To make matters more confusing, the SSA also allows a certain amount of your countable income to be excluded from the SSI income limit. According to the SSA, some of the following incomes are excluded and are not countable income (Visit www.ssa.gov for a full listing):

  • The first $20 of income received in a month.
  • The first $65 of earnings and one–half of earnings over $65 received in a month.
  • Income tax refunds
  • Home energy assistance
  • The value of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) received
  • Small amounts of income received irregularly or infrequently
  • Interest or dividends earned on countable resources or resources excluded under other federal laws
  • Food or shelter based on need provided by nonprofit agencies
  • Disaster assistance
  • Loans to you (cash or in–kind) that you have to repay
  • Monies established for SSI PASS (Plan for Achieving Self-Support).

Calculating your income limit for SSI?

The allowable countable income limit is based on the federal benefit rate (FBR). The federal benefit rate is the maximum amount paid each month to SSI beneficiaries. The amount is adjusted periodically based on the cost of living, but in 2015, the FBR is $733 per month for individuals and $1,100 for couples.

SSI recipients who have a countable income which is greater than the federal benefit rate will be ineligible for SSI benefits. If you have countable income which is lower than the FBR, your SSI payments will be reduced by the amount of your countable income.

Married SSI Disability Applicants

Another consideration is whether you are living with a spouse who is providing food and shelter for you. If you have a spouse who is working and earning more than $349 a month the SSA will consider their income when calculating your benefit payment. Your spouse’s income is referred to as “deemed income,” and it can lower or eliminate your eligibility to receive Supplemental Security Income benefits. Talk to the Social Security Administration if you have additional information about countable income and whether you can qualify for SSI benefits.

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