What is unearned income? Per the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the rules pertaining to Supplemental Security Income (SSI), any amount of money received (not earned) by a beneficiary who receives SSI benefits is referred to as unearned income. If a beneficiary receives any money will reduce a beneficiary’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

Common Types of Unearned Income

  • Gifts (form of money from friends or family)
  • Gift cards
  • Annuities
  • Pensions
  • Alimony
  • Dividends, interest, and royalties
  • Prizes
  • Awards
  • In-kind support and maintenance (food or shelter) given to beneficiary or received by beneficiary because someone else paid for it
  • Inheritances

It is very important for a beneficiary who receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to understand that any of the above types of unearned income received will have a negative impact on his/her benefits. The risk is not to be taken lightly.


Urbatsch, K., & Fuller, M. (2016). Administering the California special needs trust: A guide for trustees and those who advise them (2nd ed.). Bloomington, IN: IUniverse.