Polishing the Professional

Impairment-Related Work Expenses

BECAUSE OF MY DISABLING IMPAIRMENT, I HAVE TO PAY FOR CERTAIN ITEMS SO I CAN WORK. HOW DO THESE EXPENSES AFFECT MY SSI?

In most cases, you can deduct the out-of-pocket costs of these items, which are called impairment related work expenses (IRWE), from the amount of earnings used to figure your SSI benefit.

This means that SSA does not reduce your SSI benefit as much because they do not count all of your earnings.

WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF IRWE THAT CAN BE DEDUCTED?

If you work, we may deduct your out-of-pocket expenses for items such as medicine, medical supplies, medical devices, service animals, assistive technology that people with disabilities use for employment-related purposes, such as software applications, computer support services, and special tools which have been specifically designed to accommodate the person’s impairment and disposable items such as bandages and syringes when figuring the amount of your earned income.  

You may also be able to deduct your out-of-pocket expenses for medical services such as counseling, doctors’ visits and some attendant care services charged for preparing you for work, attending to you while you are at work, or getting you to and from work.  You may also deduct certain out-of-pocket expenses for transportation and modifications to your home, car, or van to allow you to work.

The expense must not be reimbursed by any other source and must be related to your disabling impairment(s) and needed in order for you to work.

WHAT IF I NEED THE ITEM OR SERVICE BOTH ON AND OFF THE JOB?

Generally, it does not matter if you also need the item or service for daily living. For example, the cost of a wheelchair usually can be deducted from the earnings we might count even though the wheelchair is used for both daily living and work.

ARE THERE ANY OTHER RULES THAT MAY HELP?

A person who is disabled may also use other SSI work incentives, such as a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) and continued Medicaid coverage while working.

(Source: SSA)

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