SSI Work Incentives

Impairment Related Work Expenses

If you have expenses that are related to your disability or a serious medical condition, and that you need to pay yourself in order to be able to work, you can ask Social Security to deduct these expenses when they are calculating your income to figure out the amount of SSI you can get. These are called Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWEs). IRWEs are a work incentive in both the SSI and SSDI programs.

You need to make a request to Social Security to use IRWEs. A Social Security representative will have to approve the items that you want counted as an Impairment Related Work Expense. You can use this form to request that Social Security approve your IRWEs.

Read more about IRWEs on DB101.

Blind Work Expenses (BWEs)

Blind Work Expenses (BWE) are a work incentive that are similar to IRWEs. BWEs can only be used by individuals who receive SSI benefits and are blind.

Many expenses that you pay for yourself when you work can be counted as BWEs. If the BWEs are approved, Social Security will deduct these expenses from your income when they are calculating how much SSI you are eligible for.

You can use this form to request that Social Security approve your BWEs. Read more about BWEs on DB101.

Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE)

The Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) helps students keep more of their SSI check while they work and are in school.

To be eligible for the SEIE you must be:

  • Under age 22
  • Regularly attending school (some restrictions apply here)
  • Receiving SSI payments, and
  • Working

In 2019, a student who qualifies for the SEIE can earn up to $1,870 per month in wages before there is a reduction to their SSI check. This means up to $1,870 of income each month can be excluded when figuring out your SSI benefit. There is a maximum exclusion of $7,550 per year in 2019.

Talk to a Social Security representative if you qualify for the Student Earned Income Exclusion. Read more about the SEIE on DB101.

SSI Calculation Form

If you receive SSI, you can calculate for yourself what your SSI benefit should be, based on your income. Here are two forms you can print out and use for this:

If you have any questions about how to request or report SSI work incentives, Chat with a Hub expert.