I have a lot of extra work expenses because I am disabled. Can you tell me how to get SSI to cover them?

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See how to get SSI at a higher rate by taking advantage of the Impairment-Related-Work-Expense exclusions or the blind work expense exclusions.

Impairment-Related Work Expenses for Non-Blind Disabled Workers
If you have Impairment-Related Work Expenses (IRWE’s), those expenses can be used to reduce the amount of the countable income Social Security uses in your SSI payment calculation, so that effectively SSI covers those expenses. For a general discussion of earned income, see our article I Want to Work. Can You Tell Me How to Get SSI While Working?

The Social Security Administration may reduce your countable earned income by the amount of your out-of-pocket expenses for such expenses as medicine; medical services, supplies, and devices; and service animals. Other expenses that might be deducted from your earned income are attendant-care services to prepare you for work, to attend you while at work, or to help you get to and from work. Other possible Impairment-Related Work Expenses can include special transportation to get to work and handicap modification of your home, car, or van if they are needed for you to work.

Reimbursed expenses cannot be deducted from your earnings. Additionally, the expenses must be needed in order to work and they must be related to your disabling impairment. For example, if you have work expenses of union dues, health insurance, and a lift van to get you to work, the expenses for the lift van could be used to reduce your work earnings, but the union dues and insurance could not because they are not impairment-related.

Usually, it does not matter that you also use the item during non-work hours as long as it is also needed to work. For example, you would need medication and a wheelchair even if you were not working; but because they are also needed for work, your out-of-pocket cost for these items can be used to reduce your countable earnings.

Work Expense Exclusions for the Blind
Blind work expenses include all the SSI Impairment-Related Work Expenses that non-blind, disabled SSI recipients qualify for. In addition, a blind individual’s work earnings will be reduced by all expenses related to working, whether or not they are related to blindness. Some of these exclusions are licenses, fees, payroll taxes, and meals eaten during work hours, and work-related equipment or services.

For information about other SSI work-incentive programs, please visit our article I Want to Work. Can You Tell Me How to Get SSI While Working?

Social Security Disability Is Different

It is important to remember that the earned income exclusions discussed in this article relate to your SSI eligibility and how to get SSI in a larger amount. If you also receive Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits, a different set of work incentives apply to your Social Security claim.

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