Spotlight on Impairment–Related Work Expenses -- 2024 Edition


Because of my disabling impairment, I have to pay for certain items so I can work.


How do these expenses affect my SSI benefits?

In most cases, we can deduct the out–of–pocket costs of these items, which we call impairment–related work expenses (IRWE), from the amount of earnings we use to figure your SSI benefit.

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

What are some examples of IRWEs 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, and disposable items such as bandages and syringes when figuring the amount of your earned income.

We may also be able to deduct your out–of–pocket expenses for medical services such as 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. We 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, and must be related to your disability(ies) and needed in order for you to work.


Ellen Jones receives SSI benefits because she is disabled. She works and earns $1,025 a month, which is the only income she receives. She has the following work expenses:

    small blue and black arrow she pays $125 a month for union dues and insurance; and
    small blue and black arrow she pays $250 a month to a special transportation service that she needs to get to and from work because of her disabling condition.

Although Ms. Jones has work expenses of $375 a month, only the $250 of her earnings which she uses to pay for the special transportation service are related to her impairment and not counted in determining the amount of her SSI benefit as follows: (Normally, public transportation is not an IRWE.)

    $1,025 – $20 (general exclusion) = $1,005
    $1,005 – $65 (work exclusion) = $940
    $  940 – $250 (impairment–related work expense) = $690
    $  690 / 2 = $345
    $  345 = countable earnings

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 Plans to Achieve Self–Support (PASS) and continued Medicaid coverage while working.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CALL 1–800–772–1213 (TTY 1–800–325–0778),