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What is earned income?

Produced by Patricia Baker and Victoria Negus
Reviewed January 2018

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 but not 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, provided the boarder is not part of the SNAP household. 106 C.M.R. § 365.200. See How is rental income counted?
  • 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). If less than 20 hours per week of work, it is considered unearned income. See How is rental income counted?

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?. And special SNAP rules apply to individuals who pay child support. See What is the child support deduction?

What earnings do not count?​

The earnings of a dependent child under age 18 who is in school at least part time 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 Policy Guidance:

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.”  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).

Show DTA Policy Guidance

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