TN 35 (11-23)

RS 02505.240 Summary of How Major Types of Remuneration Are Treated


Soc. Sec. Act (Act), Secs. 203(f)(5)(C)(i) and (ii) , 203(f)(5)(D)(i) and (ii) , 209 , 210 , 211 ;

A. Procedure - Determining Income

1. Income for Deductions

To determine the amount of income to use for deduction purposes:

  1. a. 

    Establish that the income is wages (whether from covered or noncovered employment) or NE from SE (covered or noncovered) and that such income may not be excluded under RS 01402.001 through RS 01402.326. (Wage Exclusions), RS 01901.000 (Coverage and Exceptions), RS 02505.045 (Income That Is Not Wages for ET Purposes But May Be for Coverage), RS 02505.060 (Treatment of Royalties), and RS 02505.125 through RS 02505.155 (Exclusion of Income From Self- Employment).

  2. b. 

    Determine that the wages were earned in the period in question or the SEI was received in the period in question.

2. Income That Counts As Earnings

For income that counts as earnings, count:

  • Gross wages in cash or in-kind from covered or noncovered work, plus;

  • Net earnings from self-employment less any net loss from self-employment. Include the entire net earnings (or net loss) from all trades or businesses.

3. Income Not Counted

Do not include true investment income as earnings.

4. Types of Payments

Use the summaries in the list of payments in B. below and how they are treated for ET purposes as a guide only. Refer to appropriate sections of the POMS for detailed instructions. This list is not all-inclusive.

NOTE: Remember to use the control procedures in RS 02510.020 if wages are paid but not earned in the period in question.

Remember to consider the applicability of the self- employment income exclusion provisions. Refer to RS 02505.125 through RS 02505.155 for instructions on these provisions.

B. Procedure - Counting Types of Income

1. Advances

Count advances in period services are performed.

Count in period paid if advances are paid against future commissions.

(RS 01401.300 through RS 01401.310, RS 02505.030)

2. Agreements Not to Compete

Do not count payments if the agreement not to compete provides that no services will be performed.

Count as earned in the period services are performed if the agreement calls for services.

(RS 02101.010)

3. Annuity Plan Payments

Do not count employer payments to annuity plans if the plan qualifies for IRC tax deferral (e.g., 401(k) plans; exempt governmental deferred compensation plans); payments on account of retirement.

Count employer payments to nonqualified plan.

Count payments under a salary reduction agreement.

(RS 01402.005 through RS 01402.010, RS 01402.105 through RS 01402.145, RS 01505.031, RS 02505.045A., SSR 64-59 )

4. Awards

  1. a. 

    Employee Achievement

    Do not count employee achievement awards. (RS 01401.150, RS 01402.205)

  2. b. 

    Length of Service

    Do not count length of service awards. (RS 01401.150, RS 01402.205)

  3. c. 


    Count employee suggestion awards in the month of payment (like occasional bonuses) (RS 01401.150)

  4. d. 

    Outstanding Work

    Count employee outstanding work award in the month of payment (like occasional bonuses) (RS 01401.150)

5. Back Pay

Count back pay in the period for which paid unless not under a statute, court order, agency ruling, etc., in which case, count when paid; but no later than last month of employment. (RS 01401.130, RS 01401.140, RS 02505.030, SSR 80-30a , 83-7 )

6. Bonuses

  1. a. 


    Count occasional bonuses in the month of payment. A bonus is considered occasional if both the payment and the amount are determined at the sole discretion of the employer at or near the time of payment. (RS 02505.030)

  2. b. 


    Count regular bonuses in the month for which paid. A regular bonus is considered part of the employee's pay. (RS 02505.030)

7. Cafeteria Plan Payments

Count cafeteria plan payments if the payments meet the definition of wages and the plan has not meet IRS requirements, i.e., is not a “qualified benefit.” (RS 01402.010B.2.b., RS 01402.030 through RS 01402.036)

8. Capital Gains

Do not count capital gains. (Includes income from the sale of animals held for work, dairy, or breeding purpose.) (RS 01803.400)

9. Cash Remuneration

Count cash remuneration from covered or noncovered employment and without regard to minimum or maximum limitations for FICA or SECA tax. (RS 01401.010, RS 01403.050, SSR 70-10 , 70-11 )

10. Clergymen's Income (Ministers)

Count remuneration for services rendered in the exercise of the ministry, regardless of whether or not coverage was elected and whether self-employed or an employee (e.g., an Army chaplain). Include salary, allowances for parsonage, rent, travel, etc. Do not count parsonage or housing allowances when included in retirement pay. Certain other expenses can be excluded from gross income, when determining NESE. (RS 01802.060 through RS 01802.073, RS 01803.251 through RS 01803.253, RS 01901.600, RS 02505.120, SSR 67-6 , 72-6 , 83-41c )

11. Clerical Orders Under A Vow of Poverty

Count reported wages of clerical orders under a vow of poverty if the order has filed a certificate of election of Social Security coverage. If no certificate has been filed, do not count. (RS 02505.120, SSR 74-18 , 81-38 , 85-10c , 89-2a )

12. Commission Sales People

Count gross commissions and any advances against future commissions if an employee. If self-employed, count as NESE. (RS 01401.160, RS 02505.030B., RS 02505.175, SSR 62-31 , 72-58 , 73-14 , 85-11c )

13. Consultants

Count wages in period consultant performed services if an employee. Count remuneration when received if self-employed, i.e., is an independent contractor. (RS 02101.107, RS 02101.122, SSR 82-17c , 89-4c )

14. Container Royalty Payments

Count container royalty payments as wages in period earned. (RS 01401.170)

15. Cooperative Allocations (Patronage Dividends, Etc.)

Do not count rebates on purchases of goods for personal consumption or rebates for capital expenditures.

Count rebates if for current expenses and not subject to the SEI exclusion provision.

(RS 01803.200A.f.)

16. Damages or Legal Penalty Payments

Do not count damages or penalties made under a judgment in legal action for wages. (RS 01401.210)

17. Deferred Compensation Plan or System (Wages)

Count in last month of employment (or in period actually earned when benefits are affected) if payments are from a nonqualified deferred compensation plan.

Do not count employer payments into, or payments from a qualified deferred compensation plan. However, count an employee’s contribution to a retirement plan, such as a 401(k) or 403(b), as wages if the contribution amount is included in the employee’s gross wages.

(RS 01401.060 through RS 01401.090, RS 01402.320 through RS 01402.326, RS 01505.031, RS 02505.045, SSR 73-30 , 75-2 )

18. Deferred Compensation-No Plan or System

Count deferred compensation payments with no plan or system in last month of employment (or in period actually earned when benefits are affected). (RS 01401.060 through RS 01401.090, RS 01505.031, RS 02505.045, SSR 74-1a )

19. Director's Fees

Count director fees as NESE. Count in the month/year services are performed if the services are performed in a TY that begins after 1987, unless fees were actually paid and received before that year. Count in the year fee payments are received if services were performed in a TY that began before 1988, but consider SEI exclusion. (RS 01802.032, RS 01803.150, RS 02505.105, RS 02505.185)

20. Dismissal, Termination, or Severence Pay

Determine true nature of dismissal, termination, or severance pay. If it meets the definition of wages, determine if it can be excluded as “payments on account of retirement.” If not excluded, count in last month of employment (or in period earned, if under a plan or system and benefits are affected). (RS 01402.326, RS 01401.180, RS 01401.310, RS 02505.045)

21. Dividends and Interest

Do not count dividends and interest.

EXCEPTION: Count those received by a dealer in stocks and securities while they are in inventory for resale.

(RS 01803.500)

22. Election Workers

Count payments to election judges and workers for services rendered, whether covered or noncovered. (RS 01505.007B.2.d., RS 01505.015, RS 02505.005)

23. Employer Payments for Dependent Care and Educational Assistance

Do not count employer payments for dependent care programs.

Count payment if it does not meet the wage exclusion requirements for coverage purposes.

Count employer payments for educational assistance. (RS 01402.220)

24. Expenses Deductible for Hiring A Substitute or Assistant

Do not count as wages to the principal employee, the amount of wages paid by the principal employee to a substitute or assistant. (RS 01401.350, RS 02101.038)

25. Farm Income

a. General

Count farm income as NESE. If optional method of reporting is used, count optional amount instead of NE.

Do not count rental income if farm operator did not materially participate.

Do not count farm income when it can be excluded under the SEI exclusion provision.

(RS 01402.020 through RS 01402.025, RS 01803.170 through RS 01803.222, SSR 61-7 , 62-32 , 63-45c , 64-25c , 65-8 , 65-9c , 67-7 , 67-42 , 72-47 , 79-14a )

b. FAPP Payments

Do not count Federal Agricultural Program Payments (FAPP) such as “deficiency payments” under the Food Security Act of 1985; “conservation reserve payments;” “whole herd dairy buyout program;” PIK payments; etc., which are excludable under the SEI exclusion provisions. (RS 02505.110 through RS 02505.115, SSR 61-28 , 62-64 , 63-19c , 67-42 , 79-14a )

26. Federal Annual and Sick Leave Payments

NOTE: Federal annual and sick leave payments are considered a continuation of salary.

If employment continues, count in months of absence.

If physical services are performed after May 1990 and the employment relationship then terminates, count in last month of services (or period earned if benefits are affected).

Consider leave donated to a recipient, as earned by the recipient, i.e., the same as the recipient's other sick leave.

(RS 02505.030)

27. Federally Sponsored Economic and Human Development Programs

Count Federally sponsored economic and human development program payments only if the remuneration (cash or in-kind) for services rendered is wages for covered (or noncovered) employment. There are now over 1,000 such programs administered by various Federal departments, agencies, commissions, and councils.

In most cases the “head” of the administering Federal agency or department decides if the remuneration is wages.

(RS 00205.125, RS 01402.500, RS 01901.340 through RS 01901.380)

28. Fiduciary Fees

Count earnings of professional fiduciaries and non-professional fiduciaries carrying on a trade or business under certain conditions. (RS 01802.033, RS 02101.630, SSR 76-31c )

29. Fringe Benefits e.g., Gifts, Awards to Employees

Generally, low value awards, gifts (watches, pins etc.) are not wages and, therefore, are not counted. However, some fringe benefits may be wages and therefore, counted, e.g., the value of having a company car for personal use. (RS 01402.040 through RS 01402.080, RS 01402.205, RS 01402.235)

30. Guaranteed Annual Income Payments

Do not count guaranteed annual income payments made pursuant to union agreement with the NY Shipping Association; otherwise develop whether wages or supplemental unemployment benefits. (RS 01401.240)

31. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

Count employee contributions to HSAs as wages for earnings test purposes.

Do not count employer contributions to HSAs as wages for earnings test purposes. (RS 01402.038)

32. Hobby Income

Do not count hobby income unless determined to be a trade or business. (RS 01802.002B.5.)

33. Holiday Pay

Count holiday pay. If in excess of regular salary, treat as a bonus. (RS 02505.030)

34. Idle Time, Standby, and Other Non-work Payments

Count idle time, standby, and other nonwork payments in period for which paid. (RS 01401.330, RS 01401.280, RS 02505.025, RS 02505.030)

35. Incentive Awards

Count incentive awards in months for which paid. If payment-in-kind, set a reasonable value. (RS 01401.150, RS 02505.030)

36. In-kind Wages, Mediums Other Than Cash

Do not count in-kind wages i.e., in mediums other than cash, if received for domestic work or farm work unless the in-kind income to the agricultural worker is in lieu of cash wages. See RS 01402.020 for when non-cash remuneration to agricultural workers is considered wages for coverage purposes. Count the reasonable value of noncash remuneration for services rendered in an employer/employee relationship.

(RS 01402.020B, RS 01402.240 through RS 01402.250, RS 01803.200, RS 01803.210A, RS 01803.251A.1., RS 02505.115B.1.b., SSR 62-31 , 62-64 , 67-41a , 70-10 , 70-11 , 70-43 , 95-3P ).

37. Insurance Commissions

a. Life Insurance — Agent Is An Employee

Count original commission plus all anticipated renewal commissions on the sale of life insurance, in the month the employee performed the last act to be entitled to the commissions.

b. Life Insurance — Agent Is Self-employed

Count each commission (original or renewal) on the sale of life insurance, in the year actually received. Consider SEI exclusion.

c. Casualty Insurance (Fire, Health, Accident, Etc.) — Agent Is Employee

Count commission for casualty insurance in the year sold. If renewed, count in year renewed.

d. Casualty Insurance — Agent Is Self-employed

Count in the year the agent receives the commission for selling a casualty insurance policy. If the policy is renewed, count the “repeat commission” in the year it is received. Consider SEI exclusion.

(RS 02101.131, RS 02101.355, RS 02505.160 through RS 02505.170, SSR 71-22 , 87-14a , 88-9a )

38. Insurance (Life) Paid By Employer

Count as wages, the employer's cost of premiums for group term life insurance that exceeds $50,000 for beneficiary. If employment relationship has terminated, count in last month of employment (if benefits are affected) and refer to RS 02510.020 to exclude such payments from the report year. (RS 01401.230)

39. Insurance Proceeds

Do not count insurance proceeds. (RS 02505.001)

40. Investment Income

Do not count investment income.

EXCEPTION: Count if received in the course of a trade or business, e.g., a dealer in stocks and bonds. (RS 02505.240A.3., SSR 64-10 , 72-48 , 73-15 )

41. IRA and Similar Retirement Plans

Do not count payments into a retirement plan, such as an IRA, 401(k), or 403(b), unless the payments are deducted from employee's wages. Do not count payments from the plan. Payments into a Keogh plan is not an SE business expense. (RS 01402.130, RS 01505.031B.)

42. Judgment or Judicial Award

Do not count a judgment or judicial award. (In a suit for wages, a judgment or award is something designated as other than wages e.g., damages, penalty, etc.) (RS 01402.410)

43. Jury Duty Fees

Do not count jury duty fees, meals, or lodging.

44. Legislators

Count wages reported by the State for the legislator. Count NE from SE for a self-employed legislator. (RS 01505.015)

45. Loans

Do not count loans.

EXCEPTION: Count if loan is from employer and employee repays by working in covered employment for employer. (RS 01401.250)

46. Meals and Lodging

Do not count the value of meals and lodging if furnished for the convenience of the employer on the employer's premises and the employee is required to accept as a condition of employment. Otherwise, count. (RS 01402.240)

47. Medical and Hospital Expenses

Do not count employer payments made under a medical plan or system, or payments made later than 6 months after the employee last worked if not under a plan or system. (RS 01402.090 through RS 01402.095)

48. Members of Congress

Count remuneration for services in Congress that are reported as wages.

49. Military Pay

Count military pay in period for which paid, whether for active or inactive duty and including pay for inactive duty training of a member of a reserve component. Do not count the value of or allowances provided for food, clothing, shelter, etc., or special or incentive pay (e.g., flight pay, hazardous duty pay, etc.).

(RS 01402.490, RS 01404.200 through RS 01404.230, RS 01601.410, RS 01701.001, RS 01901.480)

50. Moving (and Other Expenses)

Do not count moving expenses if it is reasonable to believe these are deductible for income tax purposes. (RS 01402.245, SSR 87-3c )

51. NE from SE

Count all NE from SE derived from a trade or business as computed under the IRC, without regard to the legality or coverage status of the business.

Do not count if NESE can be excluded under the SEI exclusion provision.

(RS 01803.001, RS 02505.001, RS 02505.050, RS 02505.125, SSR 64-62 , 72-59 , 73-14 , 73-15 , 74-17 , 78-1c , 79-14a , 81-17c , 82-2 , 86-4c )

52. Noncovered Remuneration for Services Outside the U.S.

Do not count noncovered remuneration for services outside the U.S. (RS 02501.021B.5.c., RS 02605.001B.1., RS 02605.005A.1.a., SSR 64-62 , 82-40 )

53. Nonteaching School Employees

Count in period in which services by nonteaching school employee were performed (even if paid on a 12-month schedule).

(RS 01505.007B.2.b., RS 01505.015)

54. Partnerships

Count NESE derived from a valid business partnership, unless SEI exclusion applies. (RS 01802.300 through RS 01802.375, RS 01803.310, SSR 61-29 , 62-8 , 62-17 , 62-49 , 64-9 , 68-6c , 72-24 , 73-32 , 84-11 , 85-19a )

55. Payments Upon or After Retirement

Do not count payments statutorily excluded such as “because of retirement” or “on account of retirement.” If not thus excluded, count in last month of employment (or prior period earned if benefits are affected). (RS 01402.326, RS 02505.045)

56. Peace Corps

Count both current and termination Peace Corps payments. (RS 01901.550)

57. Pension Payment

Do not count bona fide pension payments. (RS 01402.130, RS 01402.320 through RS 01402.326, RS 01505.006, RS 01803.310, RS 02505.045)

58. Prizes, Awards and Gratuities

Count prizes, awards and gratuities only if it is part of the salesperson's wage structure. (RS 01401.150)

59. Profit Sharing Plan

Do not count payments from a tax exempt profit sharing plan. (RS 01402.125)

60. Public Officers Other Than Congressmen or Legislators

Count wages reported for holders of a public office. If not an employee under a sec. 218 agreement between the State and the Commissioner, assume the person is self-employed and count as NE from SE. (RS 01505.001 through RS 01505.071, RS 01901.340, RS 02505.180, SSR 67-44 , 69-61 , 72-35c , 72-36 , 73-58c , 77-17 )

EXCEPTION: Notaries public are not public officers, even though they perform a public function. Their services are not covered for social security purposes.

61. Railroad Employment

Count wages from a railroad employer. However, do not count sick pay and unemployment compensation (RUIA). (RS 01601.100 through RS 01601.450, RS 01602.150, RS 01901.030, RS 02505.030A.)

62. Redwood National Park Act Payments

Do not count Redwood National Park Act payments. (RS 01401.310)

63. Rental Income From Real Estate

Do not count rental income from real estate.

EXCEPTION: Count if derived by real estate dealer from property held for sale or derived by a materially participating farmer.

(RS 01803.200A.1., RS 01803.600 through RS 01803.624)

64. Royalties from Patent or Copyright

Count royalties if derived from a patent or copyright on an original or revised work (personally created) which was obtained in the TY the beneficiary attained FRA.

Count if received before the taxable year the beneficiary attains FRA.

Do not count if from a patent or copyright that was obtained before the TY the beneficiary attained FRA, and the royalties are received in or after the beneficiary's taxable year of FRA attainment.

(RS 02505.060, SSR 62-49 , 67-52 , 75-19 )

65. Sabbatical Leave Payment

Count sabbatical leave payments only if wages. (RS 01402.220, RS 01402.265)

66. Scholarships and Grants

Count scholarships and grants only if wages. (RS 01401.005, RS 01402.220, RS 01402.265)

67. Service Charge/Fee (Tips)

Count service charge/tips as wages in the period paid to the employee. (RS 01402.280B.4.)

68. Sick Pay

Count sick pay received in first 6 months after the employee last worked (private, State or local) i.e., last performed physical services, unless made for medical or hospital expenses under a plan or system. Do not count sick pay after the 6-month period.

NOTE: See RS 02505.240B.26. for Federal sick leave. (RS 01402.090 through RS 01402.095, RS 02505.030, and SSR 86-18a)

69. Stand-by Pay and Subject to Call Payments

Count stand-by pay in period for which paid. (RS 02505.030, RS 01402.290)

70. State and Local “Pick-up” Plans

Many retirement systems for employees of State and local governments provide for contributions by both employer and employees. Sometimes the employer will “pick-up;” i.e., pay the contribution that is required of the employee under a salary reduction agreement. In such cases, the amount of the “picked- up” portion is counted as wages to the employee in the year it is picked up.

If the contributions are paid only by the employer with the employer's own funds; i.e., there is no salary reduction agreement, do not count the payments. (RS 01505.032B.2.)

71. Statutory Employee

Although independent contractors, under common law rules, may be treated as statutory employees for certain employment tax purposes, they do not qualify as employees. Due to similar working conditions, IRS provided for their coverage as employees rather than self-employed persons. However, their earnings are treated as net earnings from self-employment and must be included when applying the earnings test.

Social Security and Medicare taxes are withheld from the wages of statutory employees. Social Security wages are reported in box 3 and Social Security tax withheld is reflected in box 4 of Form W-2. The statutory employee can deduct trade or business expenses from the payments shown on Form W-2. See page 5 of IRS Publication 15-A for reporting information for statutory workers. (SI 00820.100, RS 02101.355)

72. Stock Bonus Plan

Count the fair market value of the stock if not tax exempt. (RS 01401.340, RS 01402.125)

73. Stock Option Plan

Count as wages the difference between the fair market value of stock at the time the option is exercised and the option price. Count these in the period the option was granted. Granted (e.g., the wage earner receives a W-2 for the sale of stock, but was granted the stock option earlier in their career. We count wages in the period the stock option was granted). (IRS Ruling 56-452) (RS 01401.340)

74. Strike Benefits

Do not count strike benefits unless recipient is a union employee actually performing picket or other strike duty. (RS 01402.440)

75. Supplemental Unemployment Benefits

Do not count supplemental unemployment benefits unless FICA taxable under IRS rules, in which case count in last month of employment (or in period actually earned as specified in the plan, if benefits are affected). (RS 01402.450)

76. Taxes Owed by Employee

Count any taxes owed by employee that are withheld from wages by employer. (RS 01402.225)

77. Tax Sheltered Annuities

Do not count contributions to tax sheltered annuities unless contributions to plan are made under a salary reduction agreement. (RS 01402.005 through RS 01402.010, RS 01402.105 through RS 01402.145)

78. Teachers Pay

Count teachers pay in period for which paid if received in a nonwork month. (RS 02505.030)

79. Television, Radio, Motion Picture Residuals

Count remuneration from television, radio and motion picture residuals in the period the performer provided the original services if the performer was an employee. If self-employed, consider SEI exclusion. Entertainers sometimes form personal service corporations. (RS 01401.320 & RS 01401.160)

80. Termination Grace Year

Count total earnings for the year but apply monthly test. (RS 02501.030, SSR 64-58 , 85-2c )

81. Tips

Count those cash tips that amount to $20 or more per month from each employer. (RS 01402.280)

82. Traveling and Other Business Expenses

Do not count travel and other business expenses if the employer identifies payment as travel or other business expense by paying separately, or by identifying such at the time of payment. If not so identified, count as wages. (RS 01401.360, SSR 63-18 , 74-28 , 87-3c )

83. Trial Work Period Earnings

Count trial work period earnings in year DIB beneficiary becomes entitled to RSI benefits but consider if monthly earnings test can apply. (RS 02501.021)

84. Trust Payments

Do not count payments to or from a tax exempt trust.

(RS 01402.140, RS 01802.100, RS 02101.600, SSR 67-7 )

85. Unemployment Compensation

Do not count unemployment compensation. (RS 01401.005)

86. Vacation Pay (Includes Annual Leave and Pay in Lieu of Vacation)

Count vacation pay in period of absence if employment relationship is continuing. If employment is terminated, count in last month worked (or in period earned if benefits are affected). (RS 01401.180, RS 02505.030)

87. Veteran Training Pay or Allowance

Do not count government payments. (RS 01401.240)

88. Workers’ Compensation

Do not count workers’ compensation payments. (RS 01402.295)

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RS 02505.240 - Summary of How Major Types of Remuneration Are Treated - 11/29/2023
Batch run: 11/29/2023