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I receive SSI. What do I do when…?

An increase in minimum wage may put more money in your pocket. 

Whenever you have an increase in income, you may see your SSI go down. However, because SSI is reduced by less than $1 for every $2 earned, an increase in wages can mean an increase in your overall income. 

You should continue to report your income to Social Security, as usual.

An increase in minimum wage may put more money in your pocket. 

Whenever you have an increase in income, you may see your SSI go down. However, because SSI is reduced by less than $1 for every $2 earned, an increase in wages can mean an increase in your overall income. 

You should continue to report your income to Social Security, as usual.

First, you must let Social Security know about any unearned income you receive.

Next, it is important to know the difference between income and resources to understand how this money might affect your SSI.

Example:

Tia is eligible for SSI. She receives a cash gift of $3,000 from her friend in May. She reports this income to Social Security. Social Security uses the amount in their calculation and decides that Tia was not eligible for an SSI check in May because she had too much unearned income. (It can take 2 months for Social Security to make this decision. Click here to understand why.) Social Security asks Tia to return the amount of SSI she received in May.

Of the $3,000 Tia received in May, she spends $800 that month on furniture and puts the remaining $2,200 in her savings account. On June 1st, Tia has $2,500 total in her savings account. Because Tia’s resources are over the $2,000 limit on the first day of June, she will not be eligible for an SSI cash benefit for June.

If Tia’s friend gifted the $3,000 directly to Tia’s ABLE account, the money would not have counted as income in May, and it would not have counted as a resource.

Some types of unearned income are excluded when calculating SSI. Here is a list of more common unearned income exclusions.

Bonuses, salaries, commissions, and severance pay are all considered earned income for SSI purposes. Social Security will treat these like wages when they calculate the amount of your SSI. 

If the bonus is large, it may cause your SSI to go down to $0. When your SSI is reduced to $0 due to earned income, you may remain eligible for SSI through a work incentive called 1619b

Social Security is usually about two months behind. This is called “retrospective budgeting.” When SSI gets reduced to $0, it causes the retrospective budgeting to end. This may trigger several letters from Social Security and possibly a notice of overpayment. For more information, visit Budgeting and Saving Money.

You must report income when you are eligible for SSI. If you have not been reporting income, you should do so by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or by visiting your local Social Security office.

It may be helpful to gather any documentation about your income and resources, such as wage stubs and bank account statements, prior to meeting with Social Security.

Not reporting income can result in penalties, an overpayment, and a loss of benefits. Fortunately, overpayments can often be paid back over time. You may also be able to have your benefits reinstated.

Visit our resource on Overpayments to understand your options.

People can lose SSI for many reasons. For example, if you are over $2,000 in resources, or you receive a large cash gift, you might lose your SSI cash benefit for at least one month or longer. 

When you lose SSI, it is often considered “suspended” for up to 12 consecutive months. During this period, if your situation changes, you can ask Social Security to reinstate your SSI without you having to fill out a new application. If you request SSI after the 12-month suspension period, you may have to reapply for the benefit.

Scenario:

Rajish, an SSI recipient, received a large amount of money. Rajish put the money in his bank account and kept it there for three months while he figured out what to do with it. For those three months, Rajish was over the resource limit and not eligible for SSI. 

After three months, Rajish put the money in an ABLE account. Rajish reached out to Social Security and asked for his SSI be reinstated. Social Security reviewed his bank and ABLE accounts and determined Rajish was now below the resource limit. Social Security reinstated his SSI and started sending Rajish SSI checks again, without Rajish having to reapply.

First, let Social Security know about losing your job.

If you lose your monthly income due to losing your job, you will likely see your SSI amount increase. It may take Social Security two months to increase your SSI.

Here are other considerations:

Susan Harrell (00:03):
In this session, we will be talking about SSI frequently asked questions focused on job loss or a reduction in earnings.

Susan Harrell (00:15):
“I stopped working, how do I report this to Social Security?”

Scott Leonard (00:21):
You can call +1 800-772-1213, or you can create a “my Social Security account” and report the change. Go to ssa.gov/myaccount/

Susan Harrell (00:43):
“When do I report a change in employment to Social Security?”

Scott Leonard (00:49):
Report a change no later than the 10th day of the next month. For example, if you stopped working in March, you should report this change no later than the 10th of April.

Susan Harrell (01:02):
“I stopped working and have no earnings. What will happen to my SSI?”

Scott Leonard (01:08):
Your SSI may increase up to a maximum of $783 per month. That’s the maximum for 2020. If you have other types of income, your SSI amount may be less.

Susan Harrell (01:24):
“When will I see an increase in my SSI amount?”

Scott Leonard (01:29):
Social security is about two months behind in calculating your SSI. For example, if your wages change in March, you may see your SSI amount adjusted in May.

Susan Harrell (01:45):
“Do sick pay or vacation pay affect my SSI?”

Scott Leonard (01:50):
Yes, sick pay and vacation pay are considered income and must be reported to Social Security.

Susan Harrell (01:59):
“I lost my job. Can I apply for unemployment benefits?”

Scott Leonard (02:04):
Yes. Social security requires SSI recipients to apply for any benefits they may be eligible for. This includes unemployment benefits.

Susan Harrell (02:17):
“How will unemployment benefits affect my SSI?”

Scott Leonard (02:22):
You must report an unemployment benefit check to Social Security. An unemployment benefit is considered unearned income. It affects your SSI differently than earnings. If the unemployment benefit you receive in a month is larger than your full SSI benefit by $20 or more, you will become ineligible for SSI for that month.

Susan Harrell (02:49):
“If I lose SSI, what happens to my Apple Health or Medicaid?”

Scott Leonard (02:55):
SSI eligibility is only one of a few different ways to qualify for Apple Health or Medicaid. If you become ineligible for SSI, you can apply for Apple Health through a different eligibility pathway. To apply, submit an application online, go to washingtonconnection.org, or you can call +1 877-501-2233.

Scott Leonard (03:33):
A loss of Apple Health or Medicaid may trigger the state to begin a Redetermination. This is a process to determine if there was another way you can qualify for Apple Health. During the Redetermination, you may receive additional information on how to apply for Apple Health. If you are DDA eligible and have questions, you can contact a DDA financial team member at +1 855-873-0642.

Susan Harrell (04:09):
“If I lose Apple Health or Medicaid, what happens to my DDA waiver?”

Scott Leonard (04:15):
The DDA waiver is an Apple Health or Medicaid funded program. A loss in Apple Health could result in the loss of the waiver. As noted before there are a number of different ways you may be able to remain eligible for Apple Health.

Susan Harrell (04:34):
“When my unemployment ends, can I get back on SSI?”

Scott Leonard (04:39):
Yes. If you meet all the SSI requirements. If you have been in eligible for SSI for 12 months or less, you do not need to submit a new application. Contact Social Security, report that you were no longer receiving unemployment benefits, and ask to have your SSI reinstated. If you have been ineligible for SSI for more than 12 months, you may need to submit a new application for SSI.

Susan Harrell (05:10):
“Will worker’s compensation affect my SSI?”

Scott Leonard (05:15):
If you received workers’ compensation, it must be reported to Social Security. A workers’ compensation payment minus legal, medical, and other expenses is considered unearned income. If the unearned income you received in a month is larger than your full SSI benefit by $20 or more, you will become ineligible for SSI for that month.

Susan Harrell (05:41):
“If I lose SSI, can I qualify for it again?”

Scott Leonard (05:46):
Possibly. If your SSI benefits terminated less than five years ago, you can request the benefits to be reinstated through an Expedited Reinstatement of Benefits. Expedited Reinstatement of Benefits is a work incentive that may allow you to reestablish your SSI benefits quicker than a new application to request an Expedited Reinstatement of Benefits call +1 800-772-1213.

Susan Harrell (06:20):
“I’ve heard about something called provisional benefits with Expedited Reinstatement. Can you tell me what that is?”

Scott Leonard (06:27):
Yes. While Social Security reviews your Expedited Reinstatement of Benefits request, you may see Provisional Benefits for up to six months. These benefits can include cash payments and Medicaid coverage. If your request is denied, you typically will not have to pay your Provisional Benefits back to Social Security.

Susan Harrell (06:50):
“How do I file a new application for SSI benefits?”

Scott Leonard (06:55):
To apply for SSI benefits? Call +1 800-772-1213 or you can submit an application online for more information, visit ssa.gov/benefits/SSI/. Please check out these resources.

Social Security will look at your Net Earnings from Self Employment (NESE) when calculating your SSI. Net Earnings from Self-Employment is your profit after subtracting certain business expenses.

We recommend you talk with a Benefits Planner to understand how your Net Earnings from Self-employment might affect your Title II benefits. You may also wish to speak with a small business tax professional to understand how to calculate your NESE.

It is common for SSI recipients to one day receive a Title II cash benefit. This may happen because:

  • You have worked and earned enough “work credits” to be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
  • You have a disability which began prior to age 22, and your parent has died, retired, or is disabled. This benefit is named Childhood Disability Beneficiary (SSCDB)

Social Security will ask you to apply for Title II benefits if they think you may be eligible. SSI recipients must apply for any benefits they may qualify for. 

When calculating how your Title II benefit will affect  your SSI, you will enter your Title II amount as unearned income. If the Title II benefit is larger than your full SSI by more than $20, you may lose your SSI eligibility. In some situations, you may also need to apply for Medicaid through a different Medicaid eligibility pathway

Title II benefits are different than SSI. For more information about Title II benefits, visit: What are Title II benefits?

The eligibility rules for SSI are different for people who are under and over the age of 18. 

If you receive SSI while under age 18, Social Security will contact you after you turn 18 and ask you to reapply for SSI benefits. This process is called an Age 18 Redetermination.

If you need support, you may want to talk with a benefits planner. You can visit the Get Help page for a list of benefits planners who may be able to help.

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