Going to School Doesn’t Affect Your SSI Disability Status
When you are approved for SSI, your approval depends on your medical condition and, if you are an adult, on your past work history. Accordingly, attending school does not affect your SSI Disability status. However, it may afford you a valuable benefit, the Student Earned Income Exclusion, known as the SEIE. When you are completing your SSI application form, be sure to list yourself as a student if you are going to school, especially if you are working or plan to work.
The SSI Student Earned Income Exclusion
SSI law includes several work incentives and earned income exclusions that are available to all disabled people getting SSI. These incentives are described in our article “I Want to Work. Can You Tell Me How to Get SSI While Working?”
An SSI recipient under age twenty-two who is working and is regularly attending school qualifies for the Student Earned Income Exclusion. The SEIE is in addition to other earned income exclusions. In 2016, the maximum amount of earned income not counted under the SEIE is $7,180 a year with a maximum of $1,780 in any single month.
Definition of Regularly Attending School
The number of hours you must attend to be eligible for the SEIE depends on where you are attending school. Social Security defines regularly attending school as being in class in a college or university at least eight hours weekly or in class in grades seven through twelve for at least twelve hours weekly, or in a home-school situation that meets home-school law for at least twelve hours weekly. It also defines regularly attending as attending a training course that prepares for employment at least twelve hours weekly or fifteen hours weekly if the course involves shop practice.
In some circumstances, a person may be attending for fewer hours and be eligible for the exclusion if the reasons for fewer hours are beyond the student’s control, such as being ill. A homebound student may qualify if he or she is studying a course given by a school that offers grades seven through twelve, by a college, by a university, or by government agency and a home visitor or tutor from the school directs the study or training.
To avoid overpayments, report your earnings monthly and be sure let the Social Security Administration know if you change hours of school attendance or schools. And, of course, report any substantial changes in your health that could affect your SSI Disability status.