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How Much Money Can You Make and Still Get SSI?


The Supplemental Security Income or SSI program provides benefits that include monthly payments to help adults and children with a disability or blindness and limited resources and income. You can also get SSI if you are at least 65 years old and not disabled or blind provided you meet the financial criteria to qualify.

If you have income or resources in excess of the limits that federal law imposes for the program, your application for SSI may be denied or, if you already were approved and receive SSI benefits, those benefits could be reduced or taken away. There are, however, resource and income exclusions along with other ways to make money without jeopardizing the monthly SSI benefits that you receive.

SSI Resource and Income Limits

SSI is a need-based program through the Social Security Administration, so it sets limits on the value of resources you may have available to you and the earned and unearned income. An individual may not have assets with a total value in excess of $2,000. The resource limit for couples is $3,000.

Because its purpose is to provide money for basic needs, specifically food, clothing and shelter, your earned and unearned income is limited. Your income reduces the monthly payment that you receive from SSI, which is $841 for an individual and $1,261 for eligible couples in 2022. A cost-of-living increase will increase the payments in 2023 to $914 for individuals and $1,371 for couples.

Something to keep in mind about SSI monthly payments is that not all income and resources count when determining eligibility for the program or the amount of the monthly benefit. For example, a resource is cash or assets, such as a house, that you can convert into cash and use to buy food, pay for housing or purchase other essential items.

Taking A Closer Look at Countable Resources

Some things that may appear to be resources actually do not count toward the $2,000 resource limit for individuals and $3,000 limit for couples. The following do not count against the resource limits:

  • A home that you own that you occupy as a primary residence.
  • One motor vehicle provided it is used for transportation by you or a member of your household.
  • Life insurance policies with a total face value not exceeding $1,500

There are other resources that do not count toward the allowable limits that a disability lawyer or advocate at London Disability can review with you. For example, a special tax-free savings account may be opened by or on behalf of someone who is disabled, and up to $100,000 of the money in the account does not count toward the resource limits provided the funds are used to pay disability expenses.

The accounts are commonly known as ABLE accounts, which stands for the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act. Anyone can deposit funds to an ABLE account owned by a blind or disabled SSI beneficiary who may withdraw money from the account to pay qualified disability expenses, including the following:

  • Education
  • Basic living expenses
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Employment training
  • Assistive technology

An SSD lawyer can review the complete list of qualified disability expenses with you and determine whether you qualify to maintain an ABLE account.

Income Limits and SSI Benefits

SSI eligibility divides income into two categories: Earned and unearned. Wages from working for an employer, self-employment earnings, and money received from sheltered workshops are some of the sources of earned income. Sources of unearned income include Social Security retirement and Social Security Disability Insurance payments, unemployment benefits, rent, workers’ compensation, and generally any income that is not derived from working.

Earned and unearned income that you receive during the month reduce your SSI payment. However, some income is excluded, so it does not count toward reducing your benefits.

Unearned income exclusions include the following:

  • The first $20 of unearned income each month.
  • Income used or set aside by a person who is blind or disabled toward achieving self-support.
  • HUD rent subsidies.
  • Supplemental nutrition assistance, which was formerly known as food stamps.

Any portion of the $20 unearned income exclusion may be applied toward earned income along with a $65 monthly earned income exclusion. Only one-half of the remaining balance of earned income counts toward reduction of your SSI benefit.

As a result of the exclusions available for earned income, you may earn up to $1,767 as an individual without it affecting the SSI payments you receive. Couples may earn up to $2,607 per month. If you have earned or unearned income, you should speak with an SSI lawyer to ensure that you take advantage of all income exclusions that are available to you.

Contact A Disability Lawyer At London Disability

If you have questions or concerns about SSI and SSDI benefits, an SSI and SSDI lawyer at London Disability can help with accurate information and skilled representation. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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