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Using SSI Work Incentives

Case Study 1: Sara’s New SSI Calculation

Young person workingSara works part-time as a receptionist while regularly attending high school. She earns $740 per month. She still gets her full SSI payment of $943 every month because she is using the Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE). She plans to graduate in June and will increase her work hours. She will earn $1,500 per month. Because school will no longer provide transportation to her job, she will need to pay for a monthly paratransit bus card. It will cost her $80 per month. She needs paratransit because of her disability. She wants to know if she will still get her full SSI payment of $943 per month after she graduates.

Think about it. What needs to happen?

If Sara graduates and does not plan to regularly attend college or a trade school in the fall, then she cannot use the SEIE after graduation. She can use the standard $20, $65, and 50 percent disregards. She can also deduct her paratransit cost as an IRWE.



Sara’s Gross Earned Income


Subtract the $20 General Income Exclusion

$1,500 – $20 = $1,480

Subtract the $65 Earned Income Exclusion

$1,480 – $65 = $1,415

Subtract the $80 transportation IRWE

$1,415 – $80 = $1,335

Divide by 2 to compute the additional 50% exclusion

$1,335/2 = $667.50

Subtract Sara’s countable earned income from the SSI FBR for 2024

$943 – $667.50 = $275.50 SSI payment

Sara’s Total Income

1,500 gross wages + $275.50 SSI = $1,775.50

Sara’s countable income will be $667.50, and she will still get an SSI payment of $275.50 per month. Her total monthly income will be $1,775.50.

The takeaway

Although Sara can no longer use the Student Earned Income Exclusion after she graduates, she will still better off working because of the $20, $65, and 50 percent off earned income exclusions, and the IRWE deduction. If Sara decides to go to college or trade school, she can use the SEIE, again, until she turns age 22.