Trying to understand how the Supplemental Security Income program works and the income limit that applies to you can be challenging. In order to receive disability benefits from SSI, the recipient has to meet certain criteria.

What is Supplemental Security Income?

Supplemental Security Income – known as SSI – is a federal program that is based on financial need, according to income and assets. SSI pays monthly stipends to low income individuals who are disabled, blind, or over the age of 65. SSI is administered by the Social Security Administration but is funded by the U.S. Treasury general funds.

SSI is different from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Both programs are overseen and managed by the Social Security Administration, and both offer cash benefits for disabled individuals. But the financial eligibility requirements are very different.

How can I qualify for SSI?

In order to receive Supplemental Security Income, an individual must have limited income and a small number of assets. To qualify, the Social Security requirements are that a recipient must have less than $2,000 in assets for a single person and less than $3,000 for a couple.

Income limit for SSI

Under SSI, “income” is considered any wages or money earned from working, as well as money received from other sources such as Social Security retirement, unemployment, gifts, free food, or shelter.

The income limit for SSI is the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR). In 2016, the FBR for an individual is $733 per month and $1,100 for a couple per month. However, Social Security excludes part of your income from its calculations to encourage recipients to work. So you can earn more than $733 per month and still meet the requirements for SSI. In addition, some states provide a supplemental payment to SSI recipients. In Florida, you may be eligible for food assistance without an additional application.

Calculating countable income

Not all income is counted towards the SSI limit. Not countable income includes the following:

  • The first $20 of most types of income received in one month
  • Any earned income exclusions
  • Tax refunds
  • Food stamps
  • Need based public benefits
  • Loans that must be repaid

When determining an SSI applicant’s countable income, Social Security may consider the income of those individuals living with the SSI recipient. If the applicant is living with a spouse who does not receive SSI, part of the spouse’s income is included in the applicant’s countable income. In this circumstance, the income limit is the $1,100 federal benefit rate for couples.

If a disabled child applies for SSI, some of the parents’ income is counted as the child’s income, minus an allowance for the parents and any other children in the family.

Earned Income Exclusions

If you are working, Social Security has earned income exclusions that will reduce your countable income, making it easier to qualify for SSI. The first $65 in earnings, as well as one half of your earnings over $65 in one month, are excluded from your countable income.

Call to action

Applying for Supplemental Security Income and calculating your eligible benefits is a complicated process and can be quite frustrating. The Golden Law Group in Brandon has the experience and resources you need to build a strong case for SSI benefits. Each client has a dedicated attorney assigned to their case and receives prompt answers to their questions. To discuss your case with a member of the team, contact the Brandon office at (813) 375-0098 or online today.