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Working while receiving SSI benefits

As discussed previously on this blog, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a government program that provides low-income individuals who suffer a disability or are of a certain age with a stipend. In order to qualify, individuals must be 65-years-old or older, or suffer a disability or blindness. Though SSI benefits can be extremely helpful in tough times, it may not be enough. But, can an individual work while receiving SSI benefits?

The answer is yes. In fact, the U.S. government incentivizes SSI recipients to work by exempting a certain amount of their income from SSI determinations. For example, the first $65 of earned income is exempt, while every dollar after that amount is counted at half its value. This means that an SSI recipient’s benefits will only decrease by one dollar for every two dollars earned. Another example involves students. Those who are under the age of 22 are allowed to exclude up to $1,850 of earned income a month, not to exceed $7,180 per year.

There are also expenses that may be deducted from one’s income for SSI benefits determinations. An individual can deduct expenses for impairment-related work expenses, which means he or she can spend money for services necessary to work without having it affect his or her SSI benefits. Other deductions include work expenses for those who are blind. This might include transportation and special equipment.

As can be seen, negotiating the Supplemental Security Income system can be complicated, even when considering the requirements and applying for SSI benefits. Though beneficial for many, oftentimes those who seek benefits are denied. Yet, this does not mean that the fight is over. Those who are subjected to an initial rejection can appeal the denial. In these instances, it might be wise to consider speaking with a Mississippi attorney who can represent your interests.

Source: Social Security Administration, “Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Work Incentives,” accessed on July 19, 2015

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