My son was graduating from high school. He was starting his first job at Walgreens. I worried how this would impact his Medicaid waiver. Was I doing the right thing to let him work? Would he lose his health insurance?
Those were the thoughts going through my head. But I knew that work was important for my son. Sitting at home was not an option.
The local Social Security office was not very helpful. They said to just fax his pay stubs in! What fax number? What day? Do I put his Social Security Administration (SSA) number on the front? How do I ensure it will be credited to his account?
I went to a training and learned how to do it.
I created a special cover sheet that included the calculations for the general ($20) and earned income exclusions ($65). Social Security has an example on their website (look under Examples of Earned Income Exclusions).
I set up a spreadsheet to help me do this. It also helped me understand how much Supplemental Security Income (SSI) my son should expect each month. I certify mail the cover sheet with his pay stubs to the local SSA office.
This system created a record of me reporting income. I know when my son’s income has been reported because I get a letter in the mail from SSA noting a benefit adjustment…four months later. Crazy, I know, in this day and age of technology!
Then I learned about supplemental security (SSI) work incentives. There is a Student Earned Income Exclusion which allows students under age 22 to earn up to $1,870 per month (2019 rates) when they are “regularly attending school.” That means 12 hours per week in high school or 8 hours per week for college. My son had just started a program at Houston Community College – VAST Academy. YAY! I began to include the exclusion in my monthly calculation and reporting.
But the SSA office obviously ignored my cover sheets. They didn’t take into account the exclusion. We got a notice in July that my son owed SSA money! At that point I had to take all my paperwork into the office and show them that I had reported the student earned income exclusion each month. He should still get his full amount of SSI. Corrections were made. He didn’t owe money.
I learned that if anything changes in your child’s world of work, whether it is an income exclusion or another work incentive, it is important to just go to the SSA office to notify them. You can also call on the phone (1-800-772-1213), but always get the name and number of the person you talk to.
I wish we had not waited so long to seek employment for my son. He could have started working while in high school and gained so much more experience. Not to mention more savings he could have put away in an ABLE account.
So don’t wait! Help your child get a job while they are still in school!
NOTE: There is an SSI mobile wage reporting app (Android & Apple) to report wages, but you cannot report any incentives. Take a screen shot if you use this method so you have a record. SSA should send you a letter shortly after you have entered the info into the mobile app confirming that they have received your information. Also, keep this letter for your records.
Helping your child build their independence is one of the most necessary things you will ever do for them. Learn more.