The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) provides several benefits to needy people apart from retirement income. Supplemental Security Income provides income to low-income, aged, blind and disabled individuals. In general, SSI payments persist until an individual's income increases above certain limits or until a disability ends.
How Much in Assets Does SSI Allow?
To qualify for SSI as of publication, you must meet certain minimum income and asset requirements. According to the Social Security Administration, individuals must have less than $2,000 in resources, while couples must have $3,000 or less. Resources include items such as cash, bank accounts, stocks, land, vehicles and other assets that may be converted into cash and used for food or shelter. If your resources suddenly increase beyond the minimum levels for some reason, you may no longer be eligible for SSI.
How Does Income Impact SSI?
SSI rules state that payments are only available to people with low income. Your "countable income" is subtracted from your federal SSI benefit rate to determine your monthly benefit. Countable income includes all income you earn minus certain exceptions: the first $20 of income you receive from any source, the first $65 of earned income and 1/2 of earned income in excess of $65. As income increases, SSI payments decrease.
The Social Security Administration federal benefit rate is $794 for individuals and $1,191 for couples. Considering the way income is counted, an individual can earn a monthly maximum of $1,673 or $2,190 per couple – if all income is from wages. If an individual has income that is not entirely from wages, the limit is $814, or $1,211 for couples.
States may provide additional SSI income and set their own income limits on payments. So, the exact amount you must earn to stop receiving SSI income will vary depending on where you live. The Social Security Administration also increases the benefit rate based on cost of living adjustments.
What Is Considered the End of a Disability?
SSI payment recipients must be age 65 or older, blind or disabled. If you have a disability that is expected to last a year or longer or until death which keeps you from performing work, but that disability ends, you are no longer eligible for SSI. Similarly, if you are legally blind under the rules of SSI but your condition improves, you will no longer be eligible for SSI benefits.
If the Social Security Administration deems you to have the capacity for 'substantial gainful activity,' that is work that results in income over the $1,310 monthly income limit, you could be rendered ineligible for SSI. Substantial gainful activity is work that is intended for profit and that requires significant mental or physical activity. Substantial gainful activity does not apply to people who are blind for purposes of evaluating SSI eligibility.
Are There Other Considerations?
SSI payments may end due to several other situations, such as an unsatisfied arrest warrant for escape from custody, flight-escape, flight to avoid prosecution or confinement or violating parole or probation. If you are in prison, jail or an institution for a full month you are not eligible for SSI during that month. In addition, if you give away resources or sell them for less than their full value to avoid going over the SSI resource limit, you may be ineligible for SSI payments for as long as 36 months.
Gregory Hamel has been a writer since September 2008 and has also authored three novels. He has a Bachelor of Arts in economics from St. Olaf College. Hamel maintains a blog focused on massive open online courses and computer programming.