Michigan disability lawyers can explain the ins and outs of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. This social program provides monetary benefits to certain individuals on a monthly basis. These individuals include blind people, disabled children and adults who are blind, disabled or over the age of 65.
Michigan disability lawyers will explain that this program is different from the Social Security Disability Insurance program. This program also provides monthly monetary benefits to disabled adults. However, eligibility is based on the claimant’s work history and record of payments of FICA taxes during this time.
In order to be eligible for SSI, you must have limited resources and income. The Social Security Administration sets the limit of assets at $2,000 if single or $3,000 for a married couple.
The way income is treated is more complex. The Social Security Administration uses a term called “countable income” that includes wages and other work-earned money. Money you earn from other sources such as unemployment, gifts and Social Security retirement income is also included. Free food and shelter also goes toward countable income.
However, because the Social Security Administration wants to encourage recipients to work, it excludes part of your income from the countable income calculation. Generally, the income limit for SSI is the Federal Benefit Rate. Other people’s income is sometimes included in the calculation. If a claimant lives with a spouse who does not receive SSI benefits, part of the spouse’s income is included in the countable income calculation. If a disabled child is the recipient of SSI benefits, the Social Security Administration counts a portion of the parents’ income as the child’s income after accounting for an allowance to support the other children in the family.
The Social Security Administration does not count all forms of income toward the countable income limit. Non-countable income includes the following:
- Loans that the claimant must repay
- Tax refunds
- Public need-based benefits
- Earned Income tax credit
- Food stamps
- The first $20 of most types of income
Additionally, you can deduct work expenses that are related to your work from your income. This may include the cost of special transportation.
The Social Security Administration has a number of earned income exclusions that cut down on the countable income for claimants and make it easier for some people who are working to qualify for benefits. This includes the first $65 in earnings and one-half of earnings over $65 in any given month. Therefore, a person can make approximately $1,500 a month and still qualify for benefits. However, an attorney from a Detroit disability law firm will explain that your monthly SSI benefits may be reduced if you are earning this much. Disabled students can earn about $7,000 of their annual incomes that does not go toward countable income.
Calculating Countable Income and Benefits
To determine your countable income, the Social Security Administration deducts amounts that are not considered part of the countable income. Then, it deducts your countable income from your benefit amount to determine your monthly benefits. For example, if a person made $1,400 for the month, the first $20 and the first $65 of earned income is not counted. So this means that only $1,315 would be counted. Then, the Social Security Administration disregards half of this amount. So your countable income would be $657.50. This amount is deducted from the Federal Benefit Rate of $733 to provide you with net benefits in the amount of $75.50.
Most states offer additional state supplements to provide a greater net amount of benefits to claimants who qualify for SSI. The state supplement may be anywhere between $10 to $700 more than the federal benefits. The SSI income limit goes up with the amount of the state supplement, so if you are eligible for a higher monthly SSI amount because of your state supplement, you can have more countable income and still qualify for SSI. Every state except for the following ones provide a state supplement:
- West Virginia
States have different criteria for determining the amount of supplement that a claimant qualifies for. Many states base the amount of the supplement on the individual’s living situation. For example, residents of nursing homes may qualify for a higher supplement than other claimants may be eligible for.
If you would like more information on the SSI program, contact the Detroit disability law firm of Marc J. Shefman by calling (888) 282-0719.