Bridges Resource Library

Blind Work Expense (BWE) Exclusions for SSI

Updated as of February 19, 2024.

Note: Blind Work Expense items do not have to be related to your blindness.

Note: The worker must have paid the expense in order for it to be considered a BWE exclusion from income calculation.


  • Transportation costs
    • The cost of structural or operational modifications to your vehicle that you need to travel to work, even if you also use the vehicle for non-work purposes.
    • The cost of driver assistance, taxicabs, paratransit, special bus, or other types of transportation you need because of your disability rather than the lack of public transportation.
    • Mileage expenses at a rate determined by us for an approved vehicle and limited to travel to and from work. In 2024, the IRS mileage reimbursement for business purposes is $0.67 per mile.
  • Federal, State, and Local income taxes and Social Security and Medicare taxes
  • Meals consumed during work hours (purchased or prepared at home)
  • Job-related fees
    • Licenses
    • Professional association dues
    • Union dues
  • Mandatory work contributions
    • Pension contributions
    • Disability contributions
  • Other work-related equipment/services, such as:
    • Job coaching feesOne-handed typewritersSpecial tools designed to accommodate an individual’s impairmentTelecommunications devices for the deafTranscription of materials into BrailleTyping aids (e.g. page-turning devices)
    • Vision and sensory aids for the blind
  • Service animal expenses
    • Expenses paid in owning a guide dog or other service animal that enables you to overcome functional limitations to work.
    • Deductible expenses include costs of purchasing the animal, training, food, licenses, and veterinary items and services.
    • Other costs directly related to the care of the animal, such as transportation for training and veterinary services.
  • Drugs and medicines
    • Regularly prescribed medical treatment or therapy that is necessary to control your disabling condition, even if control is not achieved. This includes co-payments and insurance deductibles, but is not limited to:
      • Anti-convulsant drugs
      • Anti-depressant medication
      • Psychotropic medication
      • Blood level monitoring
      • Radiation treatment
      • Chemotherapy
      • Corrective surgery for spinal disorders
      • Counseling, mental health and therapy services
      • Your physician’s fee relating to these services
    • However, per the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp products (e.g., CBD oil) containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are federally legal. Therefore, as of December 20, 2018, such products are deductible as a BWE.
  • Medical devices, including
    • Braces
    • Inhalers
    • Pacemaker
    • Respirator
    • Wheelchair
  • Medical services/therapies
  • Expendable medical supplies. Examples:
    • Bandages
    • Face masks
    • Incontinence pads
    • Elastic stockings
    • Catheters
  • Non-medical equipment/services
    • The cost of the item plus maintenance and repair of such item whether the individual works at home or at the employer’s place of business.
    • Examples:
      • Air cleaners
      • Air conditioners
      • Child care costs
      • Humidifiers
      • Portable room heaters
      • Posture chairs
      • Safety shoes
      • Tools used on the job
      • Uniforms
  • Training to use an impairment-related item or an item that is reasonably attributable to work, such as instruction in braille, cane use, use of technology, etc. 
  • Structural modifications to the individual’s home to create a workspace or to allow the individual to get to and from work
  • Vehicle modification
  • Prosthesis

Download Available

BEAR’s BWE Calculation Spreadsheet (two worksheets: SSI Calculation & BWE Calculation)

Contact the Bridges Helpdesk for More Information

Our Accessible web form


Text: Send to: (410) 357-1546

Voice mail: Call (410) 357-1546, leave a voice mail message, and we will return your call

This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.

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