Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a social welfare program administered by the Social Security Administration. SSI provides cash assistance to low-income elderly, blind and disabled people who have very few financial resources. SSI recipients are required by law to report certain types of income to SSI, those that don't report that income face significant financial penalties.
If you do not report additional income within 10 days of the end of the month in which the income was earned or received, you can be fined by SSI. The first offense carries a penalty of $25, the second offense is $50 and every offense after that costs you $100 (as of August, 2010). If you had a good reason for not reporting or were not at fault for the failure to report, the penalties will not be assessed.
Civil Penalties and Suspension
If SSI believes your failure to report income indicates deliberate fraud on your part, it may fine you up to $5,000. It can also suspend your payments for six, 12, or 24 months. It can also reclaim the amount you were overpaid by deducting up to the entire amount of your SSI monthly benefits until the debt is paid.
Another consequence of failing to report other income to SSI is the possibility that you may be overpaid by SSI. If SSI determines you were overpaid, it can require that you repay that money. SSI will send you a letter requesting repayment within 30 days. If you cannot pay that amount, SSI will offer to withhold 10 percent of your monthly income from your SSI checks until the full amount of the overpayment is repaid.
If you do not believe you were repaid or if you believe that the overpayment was not due to a mistake you made, you can either appeal SSI's decision or ask for a repayment waiver.
Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.