# YANML: How does SSA calculate earned monthly income

May 19, 2014 2:22 PM Subscribe

YANML: How does SSA calculate earned monthly income for purposes of determining SGA? As an SSD recipient who works part-time, I must spend every dollar I earn over SGA on approved medical expenses. Where I am having difficulty is figuring out exactly how SSA is doing the math for purposes of determining how much I've earned a month.

It is not a matter of just looking at the gross pay I take home each month. There is a mathematical formula SSA employs to determine monthly income. For whatever reason, my local SSA office is very coy about giving out this formula. I can make some waves about their failure to provide this information, but before I do that I want to see if the answer is floating around out there.

SSA is particularly brutal about (even small) overpayments, my income fluctuates (depending on the semester), and I am not earning an hourly wage (I'm paid by semester). This, plus SSA reticence in showing me their math, makes it difficult to know how much out of a given paycheck I should spend on medical expenses.

Thank you!

It is not a matter of just looking at the gross pay I take home each month. There is a mathematical formula SSA employs to determine monthly income. For whatever reason, my local SSA office is very coy about giving out this formula. I can make some waves about their failure to provide this information, but before I do that I want to see if the answer is floating around out there.

SSA is particularly brutal about (even small) overpayments, my income fluctuates (depending on the semester), and I am not earning an hourly wage (I'm paid by semester). This, plus SSA reticence in showing me their math, makes it difficult to know how much out of a given paycheck I should spend on medical expenses.

Thank you!

This POMS section may help answer your question. It looks like they take the average of the countable monthly earnings during the review period, as long as certain circumstances apply.

posted by southern_sky at 3:50 PM on May 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

posted by southern_sky at 3:50 PM on May 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Large cities have lawyers that will help you figure this stuff out for for free. Here in Chicago Health and Disability advocates is a wonderful resource.

It's not clear if your talking about medicaid in this mix as well. Also if your receiving a split (non technical term) where you receive both SSI and SSDI it makes it more complicated. Honestly your probably getting the run around because so few people actually understand the rules. If you get an explanation it would be 100 percent suspect anyway.

posted by AlexiaSky at 4:30 PM on May 19, 2014

It's not clear if your talking about medicaid in this mix as well. Also if your receiving a split (non technical term) where you receive both SSI and SSDI it makes it more complicated. Honestly your probably getting the run around because so few people actually understand the rules. If you get an explanation it would be 100 percent suspect anyway.

posted by AlexiaSky at 4:30 PM on May 19, 2014

To ask a question like this, please provide the context. Are you receiving social security benefits based on SSDI, or SSI benefits? It does not sound like you are asking about the level of earned income necessary to gain credits to qualify for social security.

posted by megatherium at 4:45 PM on May 19, 2014

posted by megatherium at 4:45 PM on May 19, 2014

The SSA is actually pretty good about disclosing what it does and how it does it, in plain language.

This page may start to address your question.

> There is a mathematical formula SSA employs to determine monthly income.

Where do you get this? Earned income (the only income that counts) is pretty simple to figure out. The only uncertainty I could see would be whether the days worked or the pay date should be used to make monthly calculations.

posted by yclipse at 4:55 PM on May 19, 2014

This page may start to address your question.

> There is a mathematical formula SSA employs to determine monthly income.

Where do you get this? Earned income (the only income that counts) is pretty simple to figure out. The only uncertainty I could see would be whether the days worked or the pay date should be used to make monthly calculations.

posted by yclipse at 4:55 PM on May 19, 2014

From a MeFite who would prefer to remain anon:

The poster really needs to look here: http://www.ssa.gov/redbook/eng/ssdi-and-ssi-employments-supports.htm#a0=2. There is some individual judgment involved at SSA, though, as circumstances can vary so widely.posted by jessamyn at 5:44 PM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks everybody:

When it comes to some matters relating to people who work and receive benefits, there are some issues that are obscure, and SSA's answers can be vague and varying.

My caseworker told me that there was math involved -- I remember her saying something about multiplying something by 13 and dividing it by something. Perusing the links posted above, I think that there is a certain amount of automation involved on SSA's end, so it is difficult for my worker to explain what is going on. The days worked, not the pay date, are used to make monthly calculations.

To those who were wondering about the context, to clarify: I receive SSD. I work. I spend X amount per month of my earned income on IRWEs. If I spend less than X on IRWEs, I endanger my benefits. Hope that explains things.

posted by IwishIwasFordMaddoxFord at 9:32 AM on May 20, 2014

**Southern Sky's**link is especially helpful*The SSA is actually pretty good about disclosing what it does and how it does it, in plain language.*When it comes to some matters relating to people who work and receive benefits, there are some issues that are obscure, and SSA's answers can be vague and varying.

*> There is a mathematical formula SSA employs to determine monthly income.*

Where do you get this? Earned income (the only income that counts) is pretty simple to figure out. The only uncertainty I could see would be whether the days worked or the pay date should be used to make monthly calculations.Where do you get this? Earned income (the only income that counts) is pretty simple to figure out. The only uncertainty I could see would be whether the days worked or the pay date should be used to make monthly calculations.

My caseworker told me that there was math involved -- I remember her saying something about multiplying something by 13 and dividing it by something. Perusing the links posted above, I think that there is a certain amount of automation involved on SSA's end, so it is difficult for my worker to explain what is going on. The days worked, not the pay date, are used to make monthly calculations.

To those who were wondering about the context, to clarify: I receive SSD. I work. I spend X amount per month of my earned income on IRWEs. If I spend less than X on IRWEs, I endanger my benefits. Hope that explains things.

posted by IwishIwasFordMaddoxFord at 9:32 AM on May 20, 2014

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To determine your monthly income amount--the primary insurance amount (PIA) is a bit trickier. This link explains it best.

Your best source for determining your SSDI entitlement will be the statement SSA mails out every year.

posted by Dignan at 2:57 PM on May 19, 2014