What is earned income?

We are in the process of updating the SNAP Advocacy Guide, so some of the information is no longer current.  In the meantime, you can read or download a pdf of the 2022 guide from www.masslegalservices.org/FoodStampSNAPAdvocacyGuide

Produced by Patricia Baker and Victoria Negus, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed January 2020

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

The earnings of a dependent child under age 18 who attends school is not countable income. 106 C.M.R. §363.230 (H). Nor do the stipends paid to otherwise eligible AmeriCorps, VISTA, Youthbuild, SCSEP and others doing service work count. See What income is not counted?

DTA Online Guide Sections:Home > SNAP > Eligibility Requirements > Income > Earned Income 

Additional Guidance:
● Missing wage information and date of termination from work can sometimes be verified by DTA through an internet-based employee verification system, called “The Work Number.” theworknumber.com. Ops Memo 2013-33 (July 9, 2013)
● Short-term disability payments are treated as earned income (20% earnings deduction applies) if the payee is still considered an employee, intends to return to work, and the payments are made out of company funds versus an insurance company. Transitions Hotline Q&A (Sept. 1998).


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