The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services administers the state’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. The statutory basis for SSI supplemental payments is codified in the North Carolina General Statutes. North Carolinians can apply for SSI benefits by visiting a local County Department of Social Services. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services uses the same income and resource limits and allowances used by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
SSA is responsible for administering the SSI program. Eligible low-income senior citizens, disabled individuals or blind applicants receive monthly cash assistance checks and may qualify for Medicaid health insurance. North Carolina is one of several states that supplement the basic federal SSI allowance. These states are not subject to the federal SSI income limits for their state supplements. These states may establish their own income levels for eligibility.
Federal Income Guidelines
Under North Carolina law, the Health and Human Services Department must use the federal income guidelines when determining eligibility. Although states that provide state supplements can use higher income guidelines than required under federal law, North Carolina does not. However, North Carolina law imposes different exclusionary income rules for SSI applicants. Under North Carolina law, each applicant can exclude $20 of income from any source, with the exception of income from the Veterans Administration. However, blind applicants can exclude the first $85 of income and half of all other income. For 2011, the maximum SSI payment that an individual could receive was $674 per month or $1,011 for married couples. North Carolina adds up to $887 as a state supplement for a total maximum payment of $1,561, depending on an individual's income and living arrangements.
For 2011, SSA published the monthly federal income limits for eligibility. The administration separates income by non-wage and wage income. The administration's individual income limit for wages is $1,433 per month. However, an individual who earns only non-wage income can receive up to $694 per month and qualify for SSI benefits. Non-wage income includes earnings from any source except employment.
Reduction of Benefits
Generally, since SSI helps very low-income children and adults receive government benefits, some individuals who work while they receive benefits are subject to a reduction of SSI benefits. However, those over age 65 can receive their monthly SSI benefits and work without a reduction of benefits. Furthermore, elderly recipients can keep their retirement benefits without a reduction in SSI benefits. For other individuals younger than age 65, the SSA deducts $1 for each $2 earned after the first $14,160. Additionally, North Carolina residents who receive SSI benefits are automatically eligible to receive government health insurance through the federal Medicaid program.