To be eligible to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, applicants must meet these requirements:
- aged (65 or older), blind, or disabled
- U.S. citizen
- has limited income
- has limited resources
What is “limited income”?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates income eligibility based on a monthly threshold known as Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). An applicant must earn under this threshold to be considered disabled.
The Substantial Gainful Activity threshold is increased annually, as shown on the table below.
What are “limited resources”?
The countable resource limit for SSI is:
- $2000 for an individual
- $3000 for a couple
The following can be considered countable resources:
- bank account(s), stocks, U.S. savings bonds;
- land; personal property; life insurance; and
- anything else you own that could be converted to cash and used for food or shelter.
What is the effect of earned income on SSI benefits?
After an applicant begins receiving SSI benefits, the Substantial Gainful Activity threshold is no longer used.
When an SSI recipient works, SSA will reduce their benefit by what is called “Countable Income”. To determine Countable Income, Social Security does the following calculation:
- Start with the recipients’ gross earnings (income before taxes).
- Subtract the following:
- General income exclusion ($20)
- Earned income exclusion ($65)
- Any Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWE)
- Divide this total by 2. The final answer is called “countable income” and is subtracted from an individual’s SSI check.
For more detailed information, refer to SSI Income Formula.