Earned Income Disregard

Can I earn money and receive public assistance?

Maybe, because of “earned income disregards”, the Department of Social Services (DSS) will not count some of what you earn. In this information sheet we will explain earned income disregards.

 

How do I qualify for earned income disregards?

First, you must be a current recipient of public assistance (PA).

Applicants do not qualify unless they are reapplying and have not been off assistance for more than 4 months.

Are there any other qualifications?

Yes, you must also “pass” income tests: the Gross Income Test and the Poverty Level Test.

What is the Gross Income Test?

A household’s income cannot exceed 185% of the household’s standard of need. For example, the standard of need for a two person household in Nassau County living in an apartment with heat included is $625.50 per month. This means that the household’s gross income cannot exceed $1157.17 ($625 x 185%).

What income counts?

Most earned and unearned income counts. There are a few exceptions such as:

  • The first $100 per month of child support for first child, $150 for two or more children;

  • For 6 months, the earnings of a child who is a full-time student; and

  • For 6 months, any income from a child’s participation in a job-training program.

Ok, I think I understand the Gross Income Test -What about the Poverty Level Test?

A household’s gross earned income and unearned income cannot exceed the poverty level.

For example, as of 2017, the poverty level for a family of three was $1675 per month. A household of three could have earned and unearned income up to that amount and qualify for the earned income disregards.

What are the earned income disregards?

The first $90 per month is deducted from what you earn. After that, 51% of your gross earnings are ignored (until your gross earnings equal the poverty level of your household). However, the 51% disregard only applies when budgeting income for Family Assistance and to any family with a dependent child applying for or receiving Safety Net Assistance. For all other Safety Net cases, only the $90.00 disregard applies.

Can you show me how this works?

We will try using a household size of three where heat is included in the rent and has gross earnings of $1080.

The maximum standard of need for the household of three with heat included in the rent in Nassau County is $834. The household passes the Gross Income Test since their gross income is less than $1542.90 per month ($834 x 185%)

Because the poverty level for a family of three is $1675, the family passes the Poverty Level Test.

 

Now we apply the earned income disregards. If the household’s net earned income is less than the $834 standard of need by at least $10, they will qualify for Public Assistance.

 

Gross Earnings .......................................$1,080.00

Minus $90 Disregard..............................$90.00

Remainder...............................................$990.00

Minus 52% Disregard of Remainder....$504.90

Net Earned Income................................$485.10

Standard of Need...................................$834.00

Minus Net Earned Income....................$575.10

Grant........................................................$348.90

In this case, the household would qualify for a grant of $348.90

The information contained in this material is not legal advice. Legal advice depends upon the specific facts of each situation. Also, the law may vary from state to state, so that some information from our website may not be correct for your jurisdiction. Finally, this information is not guaranteed to be up to date. The material contained on this site cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel licensed in your state.

We're committed to helping people in need vindicate their rights under the law.

Nassau Suffolk Law Services Committee, serving Long Island since 1966.
This website is designed for general information only.

The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

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