You can qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), even if you are currently receiving Social Security retirement benefits. However, your retirement benefits will count as unearned income when calculating your SSI award, potentially affecting the amount you receive each month.

A skilled Social Security disability attorney can review your situation, including your current retirement benefits and your SSI eligibility, and help you determine the best way to move forward to maximize the benefits you receive.

For a free consultation, contact the accomplished legal team at the Disability Advantage Group, by calling our office at 865-566-0800. We have helped many clients get the most from their Social Security benefits. We can do the same for you.

What Is the Difference Between Social Security Retirement and SSI Benefits?

SSI is a type of Social Security benefit. That means the Social Security Administration (SSA) manages the program.

Unlike Social Security retirement benefits, however, SSI is available only to those with a demonstrated need. This includes people with incomes and total assets below a certain threshold.

In 2017, you cannot earn more than $735 per month—or $1,103 for a couple—and qualify for SSI. You must also own less than $2,000 in personal assets. Couples may have up to $3,000 in assets.

In contrast, anyone who has a sufficient work history and has paid into the Social Security system through their payroll taxes is eligible to receive Social Security retirement. These same eligibility criteria are also true for the SSA’s other disability program, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

How Can I Earn SSI If I Am Currently Receiving Social Security Retirement Benefits?

Neither Social Security retirement nor SSI have any restrictions in place that prevent you from continuing to receive benefits if you also begin to get compensation from the other. Not to mention, the criteria to qualify for each program are completely different.

If you have a sufficient work history and have reached retirement age—between 65 and 67 depending on your year of birth—you can begin to receive Social Security retirement benefits. You can receive this compensation no matter if you are still working, still running a business, or if you are receiving food stamps or other government assistance, private disability benefits, or SSI.

Because SSI is need-based, the qualifying criteria are different. You have to meet certain income and asset requirements. Both have to fall below a certain level. While Social Security retirement can affect your eligibility, given that it counts as unearned income, receiving benefits in and of itself does not make you ineligible.

How Will My Social Security Retirement Benefits Affect My SSI Award?

When calculating your SSI award, the SSA subtracts your “countable income” from the Federal benefit rate. As of 2017, the Federal benefit rate stands at $735.

Determining your countable income is the tricky part. If, in addition to your retirement benefits, you have other income sources like a part-time job or an annuity, it gets even more confusing. We can help you figure this part out and determine if your income qualifies you for SSI.

For example, imagine you receive $300 per month in Social Security retirement benefits. The SSA considers this unearned income for the purpose of calculating your total earnings for SSI. When calculating your monthly unearned income, the SSA “counts” everything but the first $20. That leaves $280 in “countable” unearned income. The SSA then subtracts that amount that from the Federal benefit rate of $735, leaving you with a monthly benefit of $455.

As you can probably infer from this example, the more you make in Social Security retirement, the smaller your benefit amount becomes. If your retirement earnings are $755 or greater—which equals $735 in countable income or greater—then you will not receive any SSI compensation, as you would no longer meet the SSI program’s income requirements.

Are There Any Other Benefits to Receiving SSI?

Yes. As an SSI recipient, you can also qualify for related needs-based government benefits, such as health care through Medicaid and food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

We can work with you to identify the various benefits for which you qualify, based on your disability, your income, and your total assets.

Do You Still Have Questions About Your Social Security Retirement and SSI Benefits? Call Us for a Free Attorney Consultation.

The accomplished legal team at the Disability Advantage Group, wants to help you make the most of your Social Security benefits. To set up a free attorney consultation, call us today at 865-566-0800.