67. What is earned income?

Also in
Show Endnotes
Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

Most earned income is countable income for SNAP purposes1. Earned income includes:

  • Gross earnings from wages and salaries, including earnings diverted or garnished by an employer for a specific expense2. 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 counting self-employment income.
  • 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 household3. See what if you are a boarder or 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 week4. See treating rental income.

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 that cannot be taken as cash by the employee. See income not counted. Gross income also does not include legally obligated child support paid by a noncustodial parent when it is verified. See child support exclusion?.

Examples of non-countable earnings

  • Earnings of a dependent child under age 18 who attends school is not countable income5.
  • Work study and college or graduate assistantships are not countable. See what if you are a college student.
  • Stipends paid to otherwise eligible AmeriCorps, VISTA, Youthbuild, Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) and others doing service work count. See income not counted.

DTA Online Guide

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


Was this page helpful?