In order to be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, you must meet two primary criteria: you need to demonstrate you have a disability that impairs your ability to work, and you must be below SSI’s maximum income limit. While this seems like it should be straightforward, the question of whether someone is below the SSI income limit can be surprisingly complex. So what is SSI’s income limit, and how do you know if you are below it?
Explaining the SSI Income Limit
On its face, the SSI income limit is pretty simple: you can make a maximum amount of income every month and still be eligible for SSI benefits. As of 2022, that limit is $841 per month for an individual and $1,281 for a married couple, although that limit is adjusted every year based on the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). However, that number is deceptive, because a substantial amount of your income may not be calculated towards that limit, due to exceptions written into the law.
Calculating Your Income for SSI Benefits
There are dozens of exceptions to what counts as income for determining if someone is eligible for SSI benefits. Here are just some of the biggest exceptions:
- Income from medical care, such as reimbursements or payments from health insurance
- Income from most social services and assistance programs for low-income households
- Tax refunds
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits
- The first $20 every person makes each month, whether earned or unearned
- The first $65 of earned income plus one half of all earned income over $65
- Income for tuition based on scholarships, grants, fellowships, or gifts
- Irregular or infrequent income, up to $30 per month if earned or $60 per month if unearned
- Income or expenses meant to help someone with a disability work
What Happens if You Are Above the Limit
If you add up all of your income and subtract all exceptions, and you are still above the SSI income limit, you could face penalties to your benefits. You could have an application for SSI benefits denied entirely, or simply be given reduced benefits. This is also the case if your income rises above the maximum limit while you are already receiving SSI benefits.
What You Should Do
Calculating income for the purposes of applying for SSI can get complicated and difficult, and the cost of failing to get benefits can be enormous. That is why you should speak to a lawyer with experience handling SSI applications to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible. That way, you can maximize your chances of getting SSI benefits, and give yourself a better chance at fighting back if your application is initially rejected.
If you or a loved one need assistance applying for SSDI or SSI benefits, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced Social Security Disability benefits lawyer. The lawyers at Sullivan & Kehoe, LLP have over 50 years of combined experience between its attorneys and are available to you or your loved one in obtaining Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits. To schedule a consultation with our New York Social Security Disability benefits lawyers, call (631) 823-7155.