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Deeming of Income and Resources

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


2167. Deeming of Income and Resources

2167.1 What is "deeming"?

When we determine the eligibility and amount of payment for an SSI recipient, we consider the income and resources of people responsible for the recipient's welfare. This concept is called "deeming." It is based on the idea that those who have a responsibility for one another share their income and resources. It does not matter if money is actually provided to an eligible individual for deeming to apply.

2167.2 In what situations are income and resources deemed?

There are four types of situations where income and resources are deemed:

  1. From an ineligible spouse to an eligible individual (see §2168);

  2. From a parent to a child under age 18 (see §2169);

  3. From a sponsor to an alien (see §2170); and

  4. From an essential person to an eligible qualified individual (see §2171).

2167.3 What items are not included in the deeming of income?

The following items are not included when deeming the income of an ineligible spouse or parent. Item A is not included when deeming the income of a sponsor or an essential person, but items B through AA are included.

  1. Income excluded by Federal laws other than the Social Security Act;

  2. Any public income-maintenance payments received by an ineligible spouse or parent, and any income counted or excluded in figuring the amount of those payments;

  3. Any income of an ineligible spouse or parent used by a public income-maintenance program to determine the amount of that program's benefit to someone else;

  4. Any portion of a grant, scholarship, fellowship, or gift used to pay tuition or fees (effective 6/1/04);

  5. Money received for providing foster care to an ineligible child;

  6. The value of food stamps and the value of Department of Agriculture donated foods;

  7. Food raised by an ineligible spouse or parent and consumed by household members;

  8. Tax refunds on income, real property, or food purchased by the family;

  9. Income used to fulfill an approved plan for achieving self-support (for blind and disabled individuals);

  10. Income used to comply with the terms of court-ordered support, or child support payments enforced under Title IV (Grants to States for Aid and Services to Needy Families with Children and for Child-Welfare Services, Part D-Child Support and Establishment of Paternity) of the Social Security Act;

  11. The value of in-kind support and maintenance;

  12. Payments received by certain recipients under the Alaska Longevity Bonus program;

  13. Disaster assistance (see §2138);

  14. Certain home energy and support and maintenance assistance (see §2139);

  15. Income received infrequently or irregularly (see §2135(C) and §2137(G));

  16. Work expenses if the ineligible spouse or parent is blind;

  17. Income of an ineligible spouse or parent paid under a Federal, State, or local governmental program to provide chore, attendant, or homemaker services; and

  18. Certain housing assistance.

  19. The value of any commercial transportation ticket received as a gift. This applies to travel among the 50 States, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianna Islands. If a ticket is converted to cash, the cash is income in the month the spouse or parent receives the cash.

  20. Refunds of Federal income taxes and advances made by an employer relating to an earned income tax credit.

  21. Payments from a fund established by a State to aid victims of crimes.

  22. Relocation assistance.

  23. Hostile fire and imminent danger pay received from one of the uniformed services.

  24. Impairment-related work expenses incurred and paid by an ineligible spouse or parent, if the ineligible spouse or parent receives Social Security disability benefits.

  25. Any interest earned on excluded burial funds and any appreciation in the value of an excluded burial arrangement left to accumulate and become part of the separately identifiable burial fund.

  26. Any additional increment in pay, other than any increase in basic pay, received while serving as a member of the uniformed services, if:

    1. The spouse or parent received the pay as a result of deployment to or while serving in a combat zone, and

    2. The spouse or parent was not receiving the additional pay immediately prior to deployment to or service in a combat zone.

  27. Dividend or interest income earned on countable resources or resources excluded under other Federal laws (effective 7/1/04).

2167.4 What is excluded from the deeming of resources?

Any resources excluded for an eligible individual are also excluded for an ineligible spouse or ineligible parent for purposes of deeming. In addition, the following two exclusions apply to deemed resources:

  1. Pension funds owned by an ineligible spouse or by an ineligible parent or spouse of a parent are excluded from resources for deeming purposes. Pension funds are defined as funds held in Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA's) or in work-related pension plans.

  2. For 9 months following the month of receipt by an ineligible spouse or ineligible parent, the unspent portion of any retroactive payment of:

    1. Hostile fire and imminent danger pay received from one of the uniformed services, and

    2. Family separation allowance received from one of the uniformed services as a result of deployment to or while serving in a combat zone.

2167.5 When does a change for an eligible individual into or out of a deeming situation become effective?

A change for an eligible individual into or out of a deeming situation is effective the month following the month of change. This rule also applies for changes within the deeming household that affect the computation of deemed income, such as the birth or death of an ineligible child, the marriage or separation of an ineligible parent, etc.

Last Revised: Nov. 22, 2004



There are 15 Comments

I recently got married. My son recieves SSI. my question is does my wifes income count . will he still be eigiable???

From the Social Security Handbook :

Marriage helps determine whether:
- There is an eligible couple (rather than two eligible individuals);
- The rules for deeming income and resources apply if a spouse is not eligible (see §2167)

Also, from :

(SSI) program, for example, two recipients married to each other receive a benefit that is one-quarter less than if they simply lived together but not as husband and wife.

my son who has downs syndrome started receiving ssi/midicare at age 21 1/2. He recieved a letter wanting to know all info on a insurance related settlement/trust he started recieving payments for. We were advised that a settlement of this kind was not income and the government did not use this as an income and is not reported. SSI wants the original documents which are sealed by the courts and we are not to discuss them with anyone.

What are we to do. SSI also refused to pay him from age 18 years but said he owed 3,000.-4,000. from when he was a child. They are no taking payments from his SSI for that.

He recieves 340. mo, if we need to drop him out we will, due to to much government snooping into private affairs. Why do the back pay most people to age 18 but refuse his . The SSI rep was very rude and disrespectful. So we really do not like dealing with them.

Thank You

This person is recieving SSI and owes back child support in excess of $3000. She lives with ex husband who works full-time and she recieves child support at $200/wk She gets 767/mo so now she is getting over 1600/mo and doesnt have to pay child support to her other child who lives with the father...HOW????? She also gets Food Stamps...Is this legal?? I think this happens alot with SSI where people will lie about income and not reveal the true amts.......Not very happy in WI!!!!!!!

I found the following from this link :

Under current law, the Social Security Administration (SSA) excludes one-third of child support payments received in a month on behalf of a child on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) from countable income in determining the SSI payment.

So it sounds like two-thirds of child support is countable towards SSI income levels. If this child support is not reported to the SSA, there may be an issue there.

You can anonymously report fraud here :

How does the SS count stocks as an asset? Do they go by dividend value or the value of the stock if it was sold?

my husband is paying child support to his ex wife for their adult disabled child. the ex wife is getting full ssi benefits for their disabled child and has not reported child support that has been paid for 19 months. we were told that she has received as estimated 16K worth of ssi benefits. what are the ramifications of such an act? if we report her, will their daughter lose her benefits? we dont want that to happen as she is in true need of these benefits. if she is reported, will she just be made to make the payments back to ssi, we lower the child support to the correct amount and their daughter continue with her benefits? please advise.

This may depend on the nature of the child support payments.

From this comment above, it is likely that reporting of child support payments may reduce SSI benefits.

However, note the following from above which describes income that is not included (i.e., won't decrease SSI benefits) :

J. Income used to comply with the terms of court-ordered support, or child support payments enforced under Title IV (Grants to States for Aid and Services to Needy Families with Children and for Child-Welfare Services, Part D-Child Support and Establishment of Paternity) of the Social Security Act;

It may be best to contact the SSA directly, perhaps anonymously.

It is just regular child support that was done in the divorce. my question is.... what are the ramifications for his ex wife if we report this? we dont want the mother to go to "jail" or anything of that nature as she is the caregiver of their daughter. and we sure dont want their daughter to lose her benefits as she certainly needs these. i know from past conversations with "people" who know his ex wife she is not above "mis-leading" agencies and using their daughters disabilities to gain financial benefit. this was a major reason for their divorce. we would like for this dishonesty to stop. i've heard there are different punishments for various $ amounts. $1000.00 = certain fines / punishment. $10,000.00 and over = certain fines / punishment.... can you please explain alittle more in detail. we dont want to bring this to anyones attention until we have a better understanding of the repercussions. thanks in advance for your assistance.

We don't have direct experience with fraud reports, so we probably can't help with this.

You may want to call the Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm EST. Calling later in the week may help you get through more quickly.

When discussing the situation with the rep, don't disclose anything specific until you're comfortable with how the case may be resolved. Also, consider calling from a public pay phone.

what are the chances of somebody finding out that you are married when you don't claim to be married when filing for social security disability benefits?

We have seen an SSA audit report where the SSA looked into folks who reported to the SSA as married but held themselves out as married. Unfortunately, the SSA has changed its web site, and the report is lost. But see here :

Note if you're married, but this is not reported to the SSA, if the SSA discovers this, you may be subject to an "overpayment" levy and you'd have to pay back the overpayment.

The SSA may learn of such a situation if a disgruntled acquaintance reports the situation to the SSA's fraud unit.

We were planning to get married, however my possibly future husband receives SSI disability. I am currently working and have a retirement income from a former job. How will my income affect his disability benefits? If we were to just live together how would that affect his disability benefits? The information on this website is a bit confusing to me.

Unfortunately, this is not easy to answer as it depends on your income and other factors.

Assuming he receives SSI disability (not "normal" Social Security disability), when you marry a portion of your income will be "deemed" to your husband, and this likely will reduce his benefit.

Note that even if you don't get married, he must report any change in living arrangement within 10 days after the month the change occurs (ex. you simply move in with him). The SSI benefit may also change simply due to a change in living arrangements (ex. you pay for all or part of his food, rent, mortgage, or utilities).


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