To qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, as you may know, you need to be an adult or child of any age who is disabled or blind or any adult who’s 65 or over who has limited household income and resources. Adults with a disability that prevents them from working can apply for SSI if they don’t have enough of a recent work record to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
It’s easy to get all of the programs under the umbrella of the Social Security Administration (SSA) confused. In fact, SSI money has a different source than retirement and SSDI payments. SSI is funded by the U.S. Treasury, while Social Security retirement benefits and SSDI are funded by taxes paid by workers and employers.
Those who qualify for SSI at 65 because of their financial situation often think they must choose between SSI and Social Security retirement benefits (which are based on your lifetime work record or your spouse’s).
Social Security retirement benefits are included in your income
While you do have to collect your Social Security retirement at some point, you may still be able to receive SSI simultaneously. It depends on what your income is with your Social Security retirement benefits factored in. If you’ve been receiving SSI based on a disability and your financial status, when you reach the age where you start collecting Social Security retirement benefits, those will be added to your total monthly income.
The means of calculating income for SSI eligibility is too complicated to get into here. Further, SSI benefits vary by state, based in part on what’s considered a “livable wage” in each state. That’s much lower in Alabama than in states like New York and California where the cost of living is much higher.
Changes in income must be reported
Any changes in your financial status, including income, need to be reported to the SSA so that it can do a redetermination of your benefits. Don’t assume that because SSI is part of the SSA, that SSI administrators know that you’ve begun receiving your retirement benefits.
If you have questions about your continued eligibility for SSI after you’ve begun collecting Social Security retirement or if you believe you’ve been wrongly denied the correct amount of SSI benefits, seeking legal guidance can make all the difference in helping to ensure that you’re receiving all the benefits for which you qualify.