Earned Income is a mandatory verification. The following types of income are considered earned income for SNAP purposes:
Wages and salaries paid to an employee are counted as earned income.
Income from a corporation is not a self-employment source. Earned income from a C or S Corporation is entered as Wages. See C Corporation & S Corporation Income
The total gross income from a self-employment enterprise, excluding the cost of doing business, is counted as earned income. See Self-Employment
Payments from roomers and boarders are counted as earned self-employment income.
Income from rental property is counted as earned self-employment income only if a household member actively engages in the management of the property for an average of at least 20 hours per week. If the member performs less than 20 hours a week, the income is considered unearned. See Rental, Roomer, and Boarder Income
The following student earning types are countable:
Earnings from a state-funded work-study program
All fellowship or assistantship earnings
with a work requirement
that are not Title IV Funds and
are not used to pay educational expenses
Massachusetts does not currently operate a state-funded work-study program.
Verification of Income
The amount of all gross countable earned income must be verified prior to certifying a household eligible to participate in SNAP. However, when all attempts to verify the income have been unsuccessful because a third party providing the income verification has failed to cooperate with you or the household, and all other sources of verification are unavailable, you must determine an amount to be used for certification purposes based on the best available information.
The earned income verification must display the gross wages and the number of hours worked.
The following are examples of acceptable verifications of earnings:
a written statement signed by an employer.
Self-employment income is verified by:
other appropriate documents showing gross income and the total business expenses associated with the gross income earned
During the interview, the amount of hours the client worked must be reviewed and entered into BEACON to properly screen for ABAWD work program requirements.
Calculating a Missing Paystub
If a client submits paystubs but there is one missing, you must calculate the value of that missing paystub.
Step 1: Using the paystub received directly after the missing paystub, find the year-to-date total. Using the same paystub, deduct the gross income amount from the year-to-date total.
Step 2: Find the year-to-date total of the paystub received directly before the missing paystub. Deduct this total from the step 1 figure. The difference equals the gross income total of the missing paystub.
Example 1: A client submits weekly paystubs for the last four weeks but is missing the second paystub in the sequence.
Income from Steady Employment
The four consecutive weeks prior to initial certification or prior to the recertification date must be used as an indication of anticipated income in the month of application and subsequent months, unless:
the household can verify that a change in income has occurred
the case manager and the household are reasonably certain that a change in income is anticipated, or
some other method is used to determine income as described below
If income fluctuates to the extent that a consecutive four week period alone cannot provide an accurate indication of anticipated income, you may review a longer period to determine the most representative amount.
If any amount of income or anticipated date of receipt is uncertain, it must not be counted.
Example 2: A client provides four consecutive pay-stubs but the last paystub in the series indicates the client has received a raise. The anticipated income should be based on the average hours, times the new hourly rate.
If a household has income from a new source, such as a new job, but does not know the date or amount of the initial payment, the income cannot be considered anticipated.
If any portion or the total of the anticipated income is known and expected with reasonable certainty, that portion is considered countable income. If this monthly amount fluctuates, the household may elect to income average. See Income Averaging guidance below.
In some cases, income averaging is mandatory. In other cases, if the income fluctuates, the household may elect to average the income over the certification period. However, in any migrant household case, income cannot be averaged. See Migrant Farm Laborers
The number of months used to arrive at the average monthly income does not need to be the same as the number of months in the certification period, but it must best represent the actual income received by the household.
Example 3: Collect pay information from the last three months. Add all paystubs together and divide the answer by three months for a monthly pay amount. Divide the monthly amount by four weeks for a weekly amount. Enter this weekly amount as the weekly pay in BEACON.
Mandatory Income Averaging
Annual Income in Shorter Period
Households that derive their annual income in a period of time shorter than one year must have their income averaged over a twelve month period, provided the income is not received on an hourly or piecework basis. These households may include:
school employees (see School Employees)
farmers and certain self-employed households (see Self–Employment)
Income from Hourly and Piecework Employment
When income is received on an hourly wage or piece work basis, weekly income may fluctuate if the wage earner works less than eight hours some days or is required to work overtime on others. In this case, you should consult with the household to determine the normal amount of income to be expected as a result of one week’s work. This amount should be used to determine monthly income.
Income from Seasonal Employment
In cases where the household’s income is seasonal, you may find it more appropriate to use the income from the most recent earning season comparable to the certification period, rather than the four consecutive weeks prior to the application/recertification date or tax returns from a prior season as an indicator of anticipated income. You must exercise particular caution in using income from a past season as an indicator of income for the certification period. In many cases of seasonally fluctuating income, the income also fluctuates from one season in one year to the same season in the next year.
Withheld wages must be considered income if the money is/was otherwise owed to the client, such as repaying pay advances. If the employer withholds wages (even if unlawfully) that the household does not anticipate they will receive, the withheld wages cannot be counted as income in the household.
Some employers provide credits, flexible benefits, or flex credits, as a benefit to offset the costs of medical insurance, life insurance, etc. The term varies among employers. Flex credits are generally identified separately as credits on the pay stub, but are added to the employee’s total gross income.
Flex credits are non-countable, provided that they are used for benefits such as health insurance or life insurance, but cannot be taken as cash by the employee.
Due to differences among employers in the administration of flex credits you must check pay stubs closely to see if credits or flex credits or flexible benefits are identified in the earnings section of the pay stub. If so, follow-up is required to determine the correct amount of countable income on the pay stub. You must be sure to annotate the Narratives tab and retain the documentation from the employer or collateral contact in the case record.
Earned Income Policy and Procedures
Last Update: January 10, 2020