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SSI and Work- What happens to SSI benefits?

Work and SSI- Can I still get my money?


Many Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability recipients wonder if they can return to work after getting SSI benefits and continue to receive benefits. How work affects SSI benefit payments varies from how it affects Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and any SSI recipient who is contemplating returning to work needs to talk to a Social Security Representative BEFORE returning to work. This blog will address how work can lower your SSI payment.


Do I have to report my work earnings if I get SSI?


Yes, if you return to work you must report your work earnings. If you do not report your work earnings the SSA may continue to pay your full Supplemental Security Income payment amount and you will end up owing the SSA over payments.

The SSA has requirements for reporting work earnings, and you will need to contact them and discuss the process. According to the SSA, they will use your earnings to compute your new Supplemental Security Income benefit rate beginning the month you start working. Consider also that you must continue to report your earnings every month that you work.

How does the SSA Calculate your SSI payment if you work?


If you decide to work the Social Security Administration will disregard the first $65 of wages you receive in the month. According to the SSA, they may be able to disregard as much as $85 if you have other income.

Now, after the first $65 the SSA will reduce your Supplemental Security Income benefits $1.00 for every $2.00 of earnings in a given month.

Here’s an example:


Let’s say that you receive $400 in March 2013 and you have no other income or work expenses.

  1. If you have $400.00 gross wages minus $65 equals $335

  2. $335 divided by 2 equals $167.50. This means the SSA will deduct $167.50 of your countable earnings from your SSI payment each month.

  3. In 2013, the maximum federal SSI benefit is $710.00 per month. We then subtract $167.50 from $710.00. Your SSI benefit amount would be $542.50.


What if I have other work-related expenses?


The SSA may lower the amount deducted if you use some of the money you make to pay for items or services you need that help you work. These costs are called “impairment-related work expenses,” and may include medicines, screen readers, service animals, counseling, or therapy sessions.

What if I get a state supplemental payment in addition to the Federal SSI payments?


If you receive state supplemental payments in addition to the federal SSI payment you will be allowed to earn more cash payments than the standard $1,481 in monthly wages before the SSI cash payment is lowered to zero.

Can I get SSI back after it stopped for working too much?


Yes, if your SSI stops due to your high wages but you decide within 12 months (from the date you were eligible for SSI) that you cannot work, contact the SSA to reinstate your SSI benefits. If you wait more than 12 months you will have to complete a new application and go through the application process a second time.

 
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