If a person is under age 22 and regularly attends school, the SSI program will not count up to $1,870 of gross earned income per month (up to a maximum of $7,550 per year) when SSI calculates the monthly payment amount. These 2019 figures are adjusted each year based on the cost-of-living.
“Regularly attending school” means taking one or more courses and attending classes:
- In a college or university for at least 8 hours a week; or
- In grades 7-12 for at least 12 hours a week; or
- In a training course to prepare for employment for at least 12 hours a week (15 hours a week if the course involves shop practice); or
- For less time for reasons, such as an illness that are beyond the student's control.
- Online students meet this requirement if the online courses involve grades 7-12, a college or university, or a government agency and the online school meets the state law requirements where is it located.
Home-schooled students can meet the “regularly attending school” test if:
- When home schooled by choice:
- Instruction is in grades 7-12 at least 12 hours per week; and
- Instruction meets the home-school standards of the student’s state of residence.
- When home schooling is because of a disability which interferes with school attendance:
- Instruction can be in grades 7-12, through a college or university, or through a government program; and
- There is a home visitor or instructor who directs the study.
SEIE Example: Roberto, age 18, gets SSI of $771 per month. He just graduated from high school and will start attending a community college program full time in September. During July and August, before starting the program, he works and earns $1,285 gross per month. Roberto qualifies for the SEIE because he is under age 22 and regularly attends school. All of his monthly wages for the two summer months will be excluded and not counted by the SSI program (since they are less than $1,870 per month). This means Roberto’s SSI payment will remain at $771 per month.
If Roberto was not a student: If Roberto had dropped out of school, $600 of his wages would have counted each month and his monthly SSI payment would be reduced to $171 ($771 – 600). Roberto gains an extra $1,200 for the two summer months by deciding to continue with his education.