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If I attend school and work, are my SSI benefits affected?

New Jersey residents who are receiving Supplemental Security Income will obviously meet the income requirements and have a qualifying disability. For those who are under age 22, however, they might want to attend school and work despite their illness, condition or injury. A problem that might arise is that the amount of money they earn could be considered too much to continue qualifying for SSI benefits. Fortunately, there is the Student Earned Income Exclusion.

This exclusion is a provision that allows anyone under the age of 22 who regularly attends school to exclude their earnings from SSI calculations. The amount changes on an annual basis and, for 2017, it is $1,790 per month and $7,200 per year. The changes are based on the cost-of-living index. This exclusion will be applied first prior to any other exclusion. The term "regularly attending school" must be understood before using this exclusion.

Regularly attending school means that the person is taking at least one course and attends classes: in a college or university for a minimum of eight hours per week; is in grades seven to 12 for a minimum of 12 hours per week; is in a training course to learn skills for employment for a minimum of 12 hours per week or 15 hours if there is shop practice; is home schooled for a minimum of 12 hours per week and the laws regarding home school are followed; or is in school for less time based on factors that are not in the student's control.

If a person is homebound due to a disability, they can be a student if: a course or courses are studied and given by a school, college, university or government agency, and a tutor or home visitor from the school comes to the home and directs the study or training.

When a person under 22 gets SSI benefits, this exclusion is an important factor for them to be fully aware of. When there are concerns about the exclusion or any other matter related to SSI benefits, legal help is crucial. A lawyer who is well-versed in Supplemental Security Income can be of assistance.

Source: ssa.gov, "Spotlight On Student Earned Income Exclusion -- 2017 Edition," accessed on Oct. 23, 2017

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