What is earned income?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed March 2023

Most earned income is countable income for SNAP purposes.106 C.M.R. §363.220 (A). Earned income includes:
■ Gross earnings from wages and salaries, including earnings diverted or garnished by an employer for a specific expense. 106 C.M.R. §363.220(A). This includes short-term disability payments from your employer if you are still an employee.

■ Gross earnings from self-employment after allowable business expenses (business expenses do not include personal income taxes or FICA). See How is self-employment income counted?

■ Income from boarders (persons who get a room and meals from you) after subtracting the cost of doing business, as long as the boarder is not part of the SNAP household. 106 C.M.R. §365.200. See What if I am a boarder or I live in someone else’s home?

■ Income from rental property minus business expenses, provided you or a household member manages the property for at least 20 hours per week. 106 C.M.R. §365.930(A). See How is rental income treated?

Gross income is your earnings before taxes, FICA or other mandatory payroll deductions. Gross income does not include the value of employee “credits” for employee benefits such as health insurance, credits that cannot be taken as cash by the employee. See What income is not counted? Special SNAP rules apply to individuals who pay child support. See What is the child support deduction?

Non-countable earnings

  • Earnings of a dependent child under age 18 who attends school is not countable income. 106 C.M.R. § 363.230 (H
  • Work study and college or graduate assistantships are not countable. See What if I am a college student?
  • Stipends paid to otherwise eligible AmeriCorps, VISTA, Youthbuild, Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) and others doing service work count. See What income is not counted?

DTA Online Guide:  See Appendix G for links to the DTA’s BEACON Online Guide for this section.

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