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When Income is Counted

Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at

2133. When Income is Counted

2133.1 When does SSA count your income?

Generally, we count both earned and unearned income in the month of actual or "constructive" receipt, whichever is earlier.

2133.2 What does "constructive" receipt mean?

"Constructive" receipt means that income is credited to your account or set aside for your use, whether or not you actually receive it in hand. (See §1302.) For example, if an individual asks an employer to hold his or her regular July 15 paycheck pending return from vacation on August 3, the wages are income in July. Similarly, a month's income includes certain amounts withheld at the source. For example, amounts deducted from a payment to satisfy a garnishment or to make certain payments, such as insurance premiums, are considered income in the month the withholding occurs.

Note: There is an exception. Net earnings from self-employment are determined on an annual basis and allocated equally over all 12 months of the tax year.

Last Revised: March, 2001

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