Understanding Social Security: SSI

For many people with a disability and their families, Social Security is a vital lifeline for everyday needs. Most people know the basics and can go years without any issues. When it comes time for someone to start a new job, however, issues can come up. Understanding which program you fall under and what impact employment may have on your benefits can play a huge role in not only your daily life but also your ability to keep working while maintaining your benefits.

The Social Security Administration is responsible for Title 2 (SSDI, retirement benefits) and Title 16 (SSI) programs. The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is a needs-based program designed to help those who are 64 years and older or people of any age who are blind or have a disability and have limited funds and resources. The resource amount for SSI is limited to savings below $2,000 ($3,000 for a couple). Ownership of one home and one vehicle does not count toward the resource limit, so owning a home and car will not prohibit someone from receiving SSI.

The current federal maximum benefit rate for an individual is $721 per month. If the individual is living at home and is not providing for the household to a significant level, the amount they receive may be reduced by one-third or $483 per month. When someone becomes gainfully employed, their countable income will impact their monthly SSI check. No one will ever make less by working than they would off of SSI alone. Working will always lead to more income, in regards to SSI.

In addition to the cash benefit, many states offer Medical Assistance (MA) to those who qualify for SSI. Some people fear losing their Medical Assistance if they go to work. Once someone’s countable income reaches $1,527, they will no longer receive a cash payment from SSI but would still qualify for Medical Assistance coverage under 1619b. This extends to someone’s Medical Assistance eligibility per state thresholds.

Useful Links for Understanding SSI