What is not counted as income?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed April 2019

Both state and federal public housing have rules stating that certain income should be ignored, or excluded, when determining your rent. These are called exclusions. Exclusions are not counted when calculating your gross or annual income.

Both state and federal public housing

If you live in either state or federal public housing, the following income is not counted when calculating rent:

Regular payments from

  • Food stamps,
  • Fuel assistance,
  • Payments under the SSI PASS (Plan for Achieving Self-Support) Program,
  • Payments under the Domestic Volunteer Services Act of 1973.

Certain one-time (or lump sum ) payments

  • Irregular gifts, inheritances, life insurance proceeds,
  • Payments from insurance, worker's compensation, or court judgments or settlements that compensate for loss or personal injury..

Earnings of the following people

  • Minors,
  • Live-in attendants for person with a disability,
  • Members of armed forces in a war zone.

Earned income tax credit refunds

Payments received to compensate for medical care and expenses

Return of capital

A return of all or some of your original investment from sale or transfer of that investment

Payments from the government later reimbursed to the government

For example, if you receive SSDI benefits of $800/month, but the Social Security Administration deducts $50/month for an earlier overpayment, then your rent is based on $750/month SSDI.

State public housing only

If you live in state public housing, the following income is not counted:

Compensation for income lost

when tenant was not living in public housing (including lump sum payments).

Relocation payments

from state or federal relocation funds.

Education-related payments

Scholarships or stipends for housing paid by a non-household member (for full-time or part-time students).


Payments associated with training for employment programs to cover costs such as transportation, fees, books, or child care during training. (This does not apply to wages from on-the-job training.)

Earnings of the following people:

  • Full-time student 18-25 years old (who is not head of household or spouse).
  • A senior (over 62) working over 20 hours per week at minimum wage.
  • People who started working who received government cash assistance
    for 12 months before working. See If I work and my rent increased a lot, what can I do?.


  • Amounts paid to a veteran for tuition or other costs.
  • All but $1,800 received from federal government by unemployable disabled veteran (discretionary).

Federal public housing only

If you live in federal public housing, the following income is not counted:

Deferred Social Security and Veteran’s Affairs (VA) disability

Deferred payments from SSI and SSDI and VA disability that are either lump sum payments or in prospective monthly amounts. (While this amount is not counted as income, it becomes an asset. See How are lump sums calculated? & Are assets counted as income?.)

Property tax rebates and capital gains

Regular payments

  • Foster care for children or adults;
  • Adoption assistance payments over $480;
  • First $200/month of a resident service stipend (includes resident commissioners
  • Payments to crime victims;
  • Certain payments from federal programs: AmeriCorps, Job Training Partnership Act, Workforce Investment Act, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act, the Older Americans Act of 1965 (senior aide program
  • Reparations for persecution during Nazi era;
  • Certain repayments to Native Americans.

Education-related payments

  • Certain assistance or work-study paid to student or the institution,
  • HUD-funded training programs,
  • Incremental earnings when participating in an employment training program.

Welfare-related payments

Reimbursements of out-of-pocket expenses (clothing, special equipment, transportation, child care) in order to participate in specific training programs.

Medical-related payments

Payments by a state agency to a family member with developmental disability for costs of services or equipment to keep family member at home.


Any subsidy received to assist low-income people in paying for Medicare prescription drug plan costs.

Earnings of the following people


Deferred disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (generally received as a lump sum) .


State gross income exclusions : 760 C.M.R. § 6.05(3 Federal annual income exclusions : 42 U.S.C. § 1437a(b)(5 24 C.F.R. § 5.609(c 66 Fed. Reg. 20318 (April 20, 2001).

42 U.S.C. § 8624(f)(1) which states home energy assistance payments or allowances shall not be considered income for any purposes under federal or state law. Also see, Federally Mandated Exclusions from Income at 77 Federal Register 20318, 20319, April 20, 2001..

State: 760 C.M.R. § 6.05(3)(b). Federal: 42 U.S.C. § 1437a(b)(5)(A)(ii 24 C.F.R. § 5.609(c)(4).

You can find the current minimum wage in Massachusetts at: www.mass.gov by typing into the search box "minimum wage."

HUD PIH Notice 05-37.

RegisterFederal Register 71037, November 24, 2008.

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