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What is earned income?

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

2134. What is earned income?

Earned income is:

  1. Wages paid or constructively paid (as defined in §1302) for services you perform as an employee;

  2. Net earnings from self-employment estimated for a current year on the basis of volume of business, past experience, etc.;

  3. Payments for participating in a sheltered workshop or work activities center program;

  4. Sickness or temporary disability payments received within the first six months of stopping work; and

  5. Royalties you earned in connection with any publication of your work and any honoraria received for your services.

Earned income may be paid in cash or in-kind. If it is in-kind, its full current market value is the amount used to determine your countable income.

Last Revised: March, 2001

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