What Social Security Counts as SSI Income
Under SSI, income includes cash, checks and other things you get that can be used for food or shelter. Here are examples of income:
- Wages from your job, whether in cash or another form;
- Net earnings from your business if you are self-employed;
- The value of food or shelter that someone gives you, or the amount of money some gives you to help pay for them;
- Department of Veterans Affairs benefits;
- Railroad retirement and railroad unemployment benefits;
- Annuities, pensions from any government or private source, workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance benefits, black lung benefits and Social Security benefits;
- Prizes, settlements and awards, including court ordered awards;
- Proceeds of life insurance policies;
- Gifts and contributions;
- Support and alimony payments;
- Inheritances in cash or property;
- Interest earned, including interest on savings, checking and other accounts;
- Rental income; and
- Strike pay and other benefits from unions
Items that do not count as income
The following items are not income:
- Medical care and services;
- Social services;
- Money from the sale, exchange or replacement of things you own (though the money may count as a resource if you retain it until the next month);
- Income tax refunds;
- Earned Income Tax Credit payments;
- Payments made by life or disability insurance on charge accounts or other credit accounts;
- Proceeds of a loan;
- Bills paid by someone else for things other than food, clothing or shelter;
- Replacement of lost or stolen income; and
- Weatherization assistance.
Some things Social Security normally counts as “income” will not reduce your SSI payment. For example, under certain conditions, home energy assistance provided by certain home energy suppliers is not counted as income. Food, clothing, shelter or home energy assistance provided free or at a reduced rate by private nonprofit organizations also is not counted. Even though these items may not count, you should still tell Social Security about them.
Keep records of your earned income
Social Security will need to verify your wages or self-employment income. It is important that you keep all your pay slips, including pay slips for overtime, vacations or bonuses. If you are self-employed, you should keep your completed federal/state income tax forms.
If there is a change in your resources
Tell Social Security if there is any change in what you own. A single person can have resources worth up to $2,000 and still get SSI. A couple can have resources worth up to $3,000.
Resources Social Security does not count
Social Security does not count many of the things you own. Your home and the land that it is on do not count if it is your primary residence. Depending on how much they are worth and how they are used, household goods, personal property and a car may not count. Life insurance with a face value of $1,500 or less per person usually does not count. Up to $1,500 in burial funds for you and up to $1,500 in burial funds for your spouse do not count. Burial plots for you and your immediate family also do not count.
Resources Social Security counts
Some of the things Social Security does count are:
- Your checking and savings accounts;
- Christmas club accounts;
- Certificates of deposit; and
- Stocks and U.S. Savings Bonds.
Any payments that you get from SSI or Social Security for past months will not be counted as a resource for nine months after the month you get them. If there are any past payments left over after the nine-month period, they will count as resources.
What you need to tell Social Security
If you are single, tell Social Security if your resources are more than $2,000. If you are living with your husband or wife, tell Social Security if your combined resources are more than $3,000.
If you have a child who gets SSI, you should tell Social Security about changes in the things the child owns AND the things you and your husband or wife own.
If you agreed to sell property so you could receive SSI, you should tell Social Security when you sell it. If you do not sell the property, you may not be able to get any more SSI payments. And, you may have to return any payments Social Security already sent you.
If your name is on any bank account with another person, you must tell Social Security about the account, even if you do not consider the money to be yours. You must tell Social Security about the account, even if you do not use the money or account. If someone wants to add your name to an account, check with Social Security first. If the money is not really yours, or if it is for a special purpose like your medical expenses, Social Security can tell you how to set up the account so it will not affect your SSI.
If you (or your husband or wife) buy, sell or become the owner of any real estate, a car or personal property, you need to tell Social Security.
Call Social Security if you are not sure if something counts. Social Security will help you figure it out.
If you get help with living expenses
Let Social Security know if someone gives you money, food or free housing. Also, tell us if anyone helps pay for your food, utilities, rent or mortgage or if the amount someone pays you changes. If you used to get help with expenses and do not get it now, tell us that, too.