SSI Work Incentive Program

SSI provides a consistent income to people with disabilities and low income.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients also qualify for Medicaid, medical assistance program.
Students with SSI are eligible to participate in the SSI Work Incentive Programs, so students can receive SSI while they are earning income. Students will have more opportunities for independent living with jobs after graduation by including this program as a goal in their IEP and ITP documents after their 16th birthday.

What is the SSI Work Incentive Program?
Students commonly lose their SSI benefits if their income exceeds $85 per month during their SSI receiving period. However, the SSI Work Incentive Program assists SSI beneficiaries to keep their SSI benefits and medical insurance benefits even if they have jobs and regular incomes. This program is significant for students in transition for their education and employment. For example, students can work, get paid, continue on their Medicaid or other government benefits, and receive assistance while they continue with higher education or start their own businesses.

Students need to keep their SSI eligibility and participate in their practical work training to be qualified for the SSI Work Incentive Program. Parents and other IEP team members should include the SSI Work Incentive Program in their IEP for appropriate work-related opportunities.

SSI Work Incentive Programs are below.

  • Earned Income Exclusion (EIE)
  • Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE)
  • Impairment-Related Work Expense (IRWE)
  • Plan for Achieving Self-Support (PASS)
  • Blind Work Experience (BWE)

By excluding the expenses listed above from the monthly income, students will be able to continue receiving their SSI benefits. Therefore, students can still receive cash assistance benefits while working in their communities.

Earned and General Income Exclusion: In this program schools sponsor employment programs or a general employment program. The income earned under these circumstances is not considered as part of the $85 income limit applied to SSI beneficiaries. Therefore, under the Exclusion of Earned Income program, students with disabilities can continue their SSI benefits while they work at school sponsored work places, even if they earn over $85.

Student Earned Income Exclusion: SEIE program allows students with disabilities under 22 years of age to deduct $400 from their monthly income before Earned and General Income Exclusion. Maximum SEIE is $1620 annually.

Students with disabilities are allowed to deduct the expenses in obtaining employment and sustaining the employment due to their disabilities. For example, expenses for caretakers, transportation, assistive technology devices, and job coaching can be deducted from their earned income limit for their SSI benefit eligibilities.

This program is to secure income and resources for achieving employment goals during the designated time period. For example, students with disabilities can plan and save funds for post-secondary education, education with job coaches, transportation (public, car purchase), purchasing work related equipment, or starting business funds, which are excluded from the monthly earned incomes in the calculation of the SSI benefit income limit.

The incomes of those with disabilities such as blindness do not impact the eligibilities and benefits for SSI. Ask for more detailed information from teachers, Transition coordinators, or the SSA.

What can parents do?

  • Inform teachers, Transition coordinators, and the IEP/Transition team that a student is currently receiving SSI benefits.
  • If a child is not currently receiving SSI but might become eligible for SSI when she or he turns 18, ask SSA and consult school personnel about the application process.
  • When getting close to high school graduation or completion, consult service agencies providing SSI and work incentives. Work incentives are applied to persons with disabilities regardless of their age.
  • There can be a lot of misinformation on the SSI program. Accuracy must be confirmed about the information on SSI benefits and employment. The first thing to remember is that SSI beneficiaries can work with earned income. People with severe disabilities can work. SSI benefits and work incentives can be included in the IEP/Transition plan. Also, students and anyone with SSI benefits can sustain their SSI eligibilities and health benefits, even with a $700 monthly income. Thanks to SSI, students in transition can attend schools, work with income, and get job training and experiences to prepare for their independence and their future. People with disabilities can work through skills training, education, and support, which were unavailable in the past. This support helps those with disabilities to be able to dream high.