What college students need to know about SSI

On Behalf of | Jul 6, 2022 | SSI

Your college years can be some of the best years of your life. However, like many students, you may pay for school by working a job. And if you suddenly find that a physical or mental impairment leaves you unable to work or work reduced hours, you may worry about how you’ll continue to finance your education.

If that’s the case, you may wonder if you can qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Am I eligible for SSDI as a college student?

College students can qualify for SSI if they’re approved for benefits. However, specific rules often apply to college students. If you wish to qualify for benefits as a college student, your taxable resources must be under $2000 per month if you’re single, or $3000 per month if you’re married. However, items like home vehicles or household furnishings are exempt and typically not considered for SSI eligibility.

If the administration approves your application, you will likely receive a specific amount of SSI from the federal government. The State of Pennsylvania can also provide supplemental SSI payments separate from federal SSI payments.

Can I receive SSI even if I’m still working?

Under normal circumstances, any earnings you make can decrease your SSI benefits. However, specific rules can apply to college students under Student Earned Income Exclusions (SEIE). These rules are typically more generous to those who are in school. To qualify for SEIE, you must:

  • Be under 22 years of age
  • Attend college/university for at least 8 hours per week under a semester or quarter system

If you qualify for SEIE, the SSA will disregard the first $2040 of your monthly income up to an annual amount of $8230 in 2022. Any income you make beyond that yearly amount in 2022 will likely be subject to standard SSI rules.

What if I receive financial aid?

You can exclude grants, gifts, scholarships and fellowships from your countable income. However, you must use the money from these financial aid vehicles for tuition, fees or other current or future necessary educational expenses. The SSA will typically consider any amount you don’t use to cover educational costs as countable income.

If you receive financial assistance under the Higher Education Act or any student assistance programs from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the SSA usually excludes these from their income and resources criteria for SSI, no matter how you spend the money. That can also include any interest or dividends you earn on unspent money from either of these programs.

Getting help can let you move forward

Dealing with a severe physical or mental condition as a college student can be difficult. However, if you can get SSI to supplement a portion of your income, you can continue your educational journey with peace of mind.


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