Supplemental Security Income is a program of the Social Security Administration that provides money to disabled and blind people. SSI payments are sent out monthly and the amount of each check depends on certain factors including the recipient's recent income. SSI payments are withheld if the recipient's income exceeds the limits set by the program. Non-income resources, that is, the things a person owns, are evaluated separately from income when SSI applies limits to recipients' payments. Resource limits are $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples.
Two Types of Income
"Income," according to SSI, is anything a person receives that can be used for shelter or food. It can take the form of cash, checks and gifts. The program defines two types of income: earned and unearned. Earned income includes net earnings from self-employment, wages, royalties and money from sheltered workshops. Unearned income includes Social Security benefits, certain veterans' compensation, unemployment, rent, annuities, non-cash support and maintenance, pensions and other income that the recipient hasn't earned.
SSI Income Limits in 2018
SSI income limits are adjusted each year for inflation. For 2018, the limit on recipients' unearned income is $770 a month for individuals and $1,145 a month for couples. Earned income limits for recipients are $1,585 a month for individuals and $2,335 for couples. If you are not yet a recipient but want to apply for SSI, you will probably not be able to receive benefits if you earn more than $1,180 a month and are not blind or $1,970 a month if you are blind.
Payments not Counted as Income
Recipients' payments are reduced if they receive income from non-SSI sources, although income from several sources isn't counted when determining payment amounts. Examples of non-counted income sources include medical care and service, social services, income tax refunds, bills paid by others for expenses other than food or shelter, food stamps and more. The Social Security Administration can provide you with the full list of non-counted income sources.
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Other Income Rules
Certain rules involving the income of family members can trigger SSI limits. When it comes to couples, if only one person qualifies for SSI payments, some of the other person's income may be counted when determining income amount. If both people receive SSI payments and they separate, SSI will treat them as individuals beginning in the month of separation. SSI will consider some income of the parents of unmarried, disabled children who are under age 18 and living at home to be income of the children when applying SSI income limits to the children.
Monthly Wage Reporting
SSI recipients must report their wages each month to SSI to ensure the payment amounts are accurate. Family members whose income affects the recipient's SSI payments must also report monthly wages to the SSI. They can report it using an automated SSI telephone wage-reporting system or via a free smartphone app. You can have SSI send you monthly text or email reminders to report your income.