Can Your Income Affect Obtaining SSI Benefits?

how income can affect ssi benefitsThe Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program pays monthly benefits to anyone who is disabled, blind, or age 65 or older. However, to be eligible for SSI, you must have limited income and few assets. This means that any additional income earned can affect the amount of benefits you may receive. Understanding what counts and does not count as income for the SSI program is challenging.  

A Green Bay Social Security Disability lawyer from our firm is here to help. We are prepared to guide you through the initial application process or appeal a denied SSI claim on your behalf to obtain the disability benefits you need. A consultation with a member of our legal team is 100 percent free and confidential.

Earned Income

Earned income is any income you receive for work you have done. This can include wages, net earnings from being self-employed and royalties.

While there are limits on earned income for SSI applicants, it is possible to earn more than the limit and still receive some SSI benefits. That is why it is important to discuss your situation with a licensed attorney.

The limit on earned income is also known as the Federal benefit rate (FBR). The monthly maximum federal amount for 2021 is:

  • $794 for an eligible individual
  • $1,191 for an eligible couple
  • $397 for an essential person

However, not all income is countable, which is why individuals and couples may still be eligible if they earn more than the FBR. Individuals and couples could potentially earn more than twice the FBR and still be eligible for benefits.

Income the Social Security Administration (SSA) will not count towards the SSI limit includes:

  • The first $20 of most income received every month
  • The first $65 of income and one-half of earnings over $65 received in a month
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) received
  • Income tax refunds
  • Income from a home energy assistance program
  • Loans that must be repaid
  • Public benefits based on need
  • Small amounts of income received infrequently or irregularly
  • Disaster assistance
  • Income set aside to become self-sufficient
  • Impairment-related work expenses for items or services

How Your Income Affects Your SSI Benefit

The SSA determines how your income affects your SSI benefits in two ways:

  • The SSA will first subtract income it does not count from your total gross income. The amount remaining is considered countable income.
  • The SSA then subtracts your countable income from the SSI Federal benefit rate. The end result would be your monthly SSI Federal benefit.

Unearned Income

Unearned income is any income that is not earned from working. This can include:

  • Unemployment benefits
  • Dividends
  • Cash from loved ones

The SSA may also not count some of your unearned income toward the SSI limit.

In-Kind Income

In-kind income is any food and/or shelter you receive for free from someone else. In-kind support and maintenance can be counted as income by the SSA if you have received help paying your rent, mortgage or utility bills.

The SSA will not count in-kind income if you pay for your rent and food, or if you live with others and pay your fair share of food and shelter expenses.

Otherwise, your monthly SSI benefits may be reduced by as much as $281, depending on the value of help received. The SSA will use one of the rules below to determine this value:

One-Third Reduction Rule

The SSA will reduce the benefit rate by one-third if you live in another person’s home and he or she is paying for your food and shelter.

Presumed Value Rule

The SSA will apply the presumed value rule if you live in your own home but someone else pays your bills, including food, or if you live in another person’s home rent-free but you pay for your own food. The benefit rate will similarly be reduced by one-third, plus $20.

Deemed Income

Another form of income that may affect an individual’s SSI benefits is his or her spouse’s income. The SSA may deem this income available to the recipient. If you and your spouse have children that reside in the home, some of your spouse’s income may be excluded from the deemed income amount.

Learn More About SSI Benefits Today

At Sigman Janssen, our lawyers are well-versed in SSI eligibility requirements and processes and are prepared to help you understand how your income can affect your monthly disability amount.

Our initial consultations are free and come with no obligation to retain our services. There are no upfront fees and we only receive payment if you obtain SSI benefits.  

Need legal help? Call (877) 888-5201