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SSI benefits stopped after I returned to work?

Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I was receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for two years. I recently got a part-time job. The last two months my SSI payment has been substantially reduced. Why would my SSI benefits be reduced just because I am working a small part-time job?”


Reporting all income to the Social Security Administration (SSA)

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is provided to claimants who are disabled, blind or aged and who are not able to work or perform substantial gainful activity. It is only provided to claimants, however, who also have limited income and assets.

Because a claimant’s SSI payment is based on the amount of income they earn or possess, claimants who are receiving SSI benefits but decide return to work, even part-time, must report all of their earnings to the Social Security Administration.

If a claimant decides to return to work their SSI payment can be reduced. In fact, if their income is too high, their SSI payment may be completely stopped. If, however, their income drops below certain limits for certain months their SSI payment may begin again.

How much will my SSI payment be if I start working?

If you decide to return to work you should talk to the Social Security Administration (SSA) to make sure you understand how your SSI payment will be affected. You will also have to report your earnings each month to the SSI.

Although the calculation to determine your SSI payment can be a bit complicated, in general, the SSA will not count the first $85 of your monthly earnings. After that, the SSA will reduce your SSI benefits 50 cents for every dollar that you earn over $85 each month.

For example, let’s say you work and earn $888 in a month. $888- $85 = $803. Then the SSA divides that by 2, which equals $401.50. They will then subtract $401.50 from your SSI payment.

Note: It’s important to talk to the SSA because there are other incentives and additional monies which may be exempted from the calculation if you are using the income to achieve self-support. 

When should I contact the SSA?

According the SSA, you should contact them under each of the following situations:

Contacting the SSA under each of these conditions critical. If you fail to contact them you could end up owing them an SSI overpayment.

Will I continue to receive Medicaid if I return to work?

Medicaid coverage eligibility rules vary by state. With this in mind, it’s important to contact the SSA and review the information for your state. In most states, however, Medicaid may continue if you need it to be able to work, you cannot afford similar medical coverage without SSI, you are still disabled, or you meet all other requirements for SSI eligibility.

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