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IRWE: Expenses To Get You To, And Keep You In, The Workplace


The amount of your income that is counted toward reducing your Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits can be reduced by out-of-pocket expenses required to get you to the workplace or to keep you there. These expenses are called Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWEs).

Out-of-pocket costs for these expenses can be used to reduce the income Social Security counts when it determines whether you are doing Substantial Gainful Activity, provided you need the expenses in order to work. It does not matter if you also need them for daily living.

For IRWE, expenses must satisfy each of the following requirements:

  • Be for an item or service that enables you to work.
  • Be for an item or service that is needed because of your disabling impairment.
  • Be something you pay for and for which you are not reimbursed from any source such as your employer or insurance.
  • Be in a reasonable amount for the community in which you live.
  • As a general matter, the expense must be paid for in a month in which you are not working.

IRWEs may include:

  • Acupuncture.
  • Ambulette costs if certified in writing by your doctor as necessary to get you to and from work.
  • Attendant care services at work or at home -- even when provided by a family member that has been otherwise employed and suffers economic loss in order to perform such service.
  • Chiropractic treatments.
  • Counseling.
  • Home modifications made in order to accommodate your functional limitations. Whether an expense is considered IRWE depends on where you work.
    • If you work away from home: changes outside your residence that permit you to get to your means of transportation (e.g., the installation of an exterior ramp or special exterior railings or pathways).
    • If you work at home: the modifications must be to the interior of the home in order to create a working space to accommodate your impairment.
  • Massage therapy.
  • Prostheses and similar items.
  • Seeing eye dog expenses, including the expense of maintenance and veterinary services.
  • Special equipment required to perform your job.
  • Special transportation required to get you to and from the job.

Think creatively if an expense you incur is not on the above list. 

It is up to you to prove tha an expense is IRWE. Provide Social Security with:

  • Copies of invoices, receipts or cancelled checks that relate to your expenses.
  • A doctor's instructions requiring or suggesting that you purchase or use these items or services.

For more information about IRWE: See Social Security's web site: offsite link

To Learn More

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Substantial Gainful Activity

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