The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

71. What is earned income?

ALERT:  Many of the rules in the SNAPAdvocacy Guide do NOT apply during the pandemic. Please go to the following COVID-19 & DTA benefits page: https://www.masslegalservices.org/DTA-COVID-19 until further notice for more information about changes.

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 Question 73.
  • Income from boarders (persons who get a room and meals from you) after subtracting the cost of doing business, as long as provided the boarder is not part of the SNAP household. 106 C.M.R. § 365.200. See Question 42.
  • 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 Question 75.

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 Question 69. Special SNAP rules apply to individuals who pay child support. See Question 82.

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 Question 69.

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. 

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