The U.S. Social Security Administration 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.
SSI and Resources
To qualify for SSI as of May 2011, 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.
SSI and Income
SSI 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 federal benefit rate is $674, but 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.
End of a Disability
SSI payment recipients must be 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.
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.
- Social Security Administration: Understanding Supplemental Security Income SSI Eligibility Requirements; 2011
- Social Security Administration: Working While Disabled—How We Can Help; January 2011
- Social Security Administration: Understanding Supplemental Security Income Continuing Disability Reviews; 2011
- Social Security Administration: Understanding Supplemental Security Income SSI Spotlight on Reporting Your Earnings to Social Security; 2011
- Social Security Administration: Understanding Supplemental Security Income SSI Income; 2011
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.