Student management

What is the student-earned income exclusion for SSI?

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Generally, college students aren’t exactly swimming in money, even if they have a job while attending school. Most would appreciate an opportunity to save money, even if it just means having less tax deducted from their paychecks. The Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) allows them to do this.

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SEIE, administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), is a work incentive that allows certain Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients to exclude earnings from their income to reduce their tax withholding. To be eligible, recipients must be under the age of 22 and regularly attend school, according to the SSA.

In 2022, eligible students will be able to keep even more of their paychecks thanks to an increase in the amount of income that can be excluded. The current amount that can be excluded is $2,040 per month up to an annual maximum of $8,230. This compares to the 2021 exclusion of $1,930 per month to an annual maximum of $7,770.

The SSA generally adjusts the monthly amount and the annual limit each year, based on increases in the cost of living index. Soaring inflation numbers this year probably mean you can expect SEIE to climb even higher in 2023.

Before applying to SEIE, make sure you meet the SSA’s definition of “regular attendance at school.” To be eligible, you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Are at a college or university for at least eight hours per week under a semester or quarter system.
  • Attend grades 7-12 for at least 12 hours per week.
  • Are enrolled in pre-employment training of at least 12 hours per week (or 15 hours per week if the training includes workshop practice).
  • You are home-schooled in grades 7-12 for at least 12 hours per week and in accordance with the home schooling law of the state or jurisdiction where you live.

Some of the time restrictions may be waived if a student cannot meet them for reasons beyond their control, such as illness.

The SEIE is applied to a student’s gross income before general and earned income exclusions, according to the South Dakota Department of Social Services. The SEIE annual maximum applies to the calendar year that begins in January and ends in December. You cannot split the amount of SEIE applied in a given month, which means that once you have reached the limit for a certain month, no exclusions can apply until the following month.

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If you receive SSI and start working, you should report your income to SSA by calling or visiting your local Social Security office and speaking with an SSI claims representative, according to the Human Development Institute of the United States. University of Kentucky. If you meet the conditions described above, ask the claims representative if you are eligible for SEIE.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who has previously held positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work has also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal, and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a BA in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting has earned him awards from the North Carolina Press Association, Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A North Carolina native who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story “Saint Christopher” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest short story competition. Two of her short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. Her first novel, Voodoo Hideaway, is published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.