How To Calculate Personal Allowance
SHARE

Overview

If the residential agency is a representative payee, they are responsible for calculating the personal allowance. The type of residence in which a person lives determines the statutory minimum amount of personal allowance the person must receive. 

These amounts change any time there is a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). If there is no COLA, the amounts remain unchanged. OPWDD posts the latest information about current benefit levels and personal allowance amounts on its website.

Depending on a person’s income and where they live, personal allowance laws (section 131-o of the Social Services Law) set the base amount of the allowance. This is called the statutory amount. In addition, if a person has income exemptions, they can get more personal allowance. The most common types of income exemptions are the general income disregard and earned income exclusion. See below for more information. 

Unearned Versus Earned Income

Unearned income is received from sources other than work-related income. Unearned income includes benefits from Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), pensions, State disability payments, unemployment, interest income and cash from friends and relatives.

Earned income is any income received from work activity including wages, salaries, tips, and income from self-employment.

General Income Disregard

Unearned income is received from sources other than work-related income. Unearned income includes benefits from Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), pensions, State disability payments, unemployment, interest income and cash from friends and relatives.

Earned income is any income received from work activity including wages, salaries, tips, and income from self-employment. The first $20 of income other than SSI is not counted when calculating personal allowance. This is called a general income disregard because it can be applied to both unearned and earned income. If the person receives both unearned and earned income, the disregard is applied to the unearned income first. If there is any part of the $20 left over after applying the disregard to the unearned income, the rest of the disregard is applied to earnings if the person works. If the person gets SSI and other unearned income, the disregard is applied to the other unearned income. If the person has SSI and earned income, the disregard is applied to the earned income. If the person gets SSI only, the $20 disregard does not apply.

An individual in a certified CR, IRA, or family care home who receives income greater than $20 from any source besides SSI is entitled to personal allowance equal to the current statutory amount plus $20.

Exception: A person who lives in an ICF, DC, SRU, specialty hospital, or nursing facility is subject to chronic care budgeting and does not get the $20 general income disregard.