SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, is a type of disability benefit paid to qualifying individuals whose household income falls below a certain level. It is different from Social Security disability insurance, or SSDI, which is paid out of the Social Security trust fund and is available to those who have worked (and paid FICA taxes) for a required minimum number of years.
The SSI program has strict limits on the amount of income and assets you can have and be eligible for SSI. Determining whether you fall within SSI’s income limits (as well as figuring out what your SSI payment might be) is pretty complicated. While we’ll go over the key principles here, your claims representative at the Social Security Administration (SSA) can tell you whether you will qualify under the income limits for SSI after looking at your finances.
What Is the Income Limit for SSI?
The income limit for the SSI program is based on something called the federal benefit rate (FBR). The federal benefit rate represents both the SSI income limit and the maximum federal monthly SSI payment. In 2015, the FBR is $733 per month for individuals and $1, 100 for couples. (The FBR increases annually if there is a Social Security cost-of-living adjustment.)
To qualify for SSI, your countable monthly income cannot exceed the FBR. However, the SSA counts only some of your income when it determines whether your income is over the income limit. For instance, if you are earning money from work, less than half of your monthly earnings are counted toward the income limit, so you can make more than $733 per month (in 2015). This makes it difficult to know for sure whether your income falls under the SSI income limit. (To find out which of your income is counted, see our article on What Counts as Income Toward the SSI Income Limit.)
In addition, if you are participating in the Plan to Achieve Self Support (PASS) program, SSI allows you to set aside funds to help you get back to work; these funds won't count toward your income or asset limit for SSI.
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