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Home » Glossary » Unearned Income

Definition of Unearned Income

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are only provided to claimants who have very limited income and resources. Both earned and unearned income is considered in the resource and income calculations, which means if a claimant has too much unearned income they will not qualify for SSI benefits.

Earned income is income generated from wages and other types of employment. Unearned income, however, is income which is not generated from employment and can include life insurance policies, gifts and contributions, alimony payments, rental income, strike pay, inheritance, prizes, lottery winnings, annuities, pensions from government, workers' compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, benefits from the Department of Veteran Affairs and the value of food or shelter provided by another person.

The Supplemental Security Income limit for a claimant is $2,000 per individual and $3,000 for couples, although not all resources are counted towards the limit. Claimants who have too much earned or unearned income will not qualify for SSI even if they are disabled and unable to work. Talk to the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 if you have questions about your resource and income limit.

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