You applied for and won your disability case, congratulations! Maybe now you can pay off a few bills, fix your car, or get that new washing machine you’ve been needing.
BUT, after you’ve spent the lump sum payment(s) you received in backpay (money owed you from the time you were found disabled to the present), and now receive just monthly payments, do you find money is again low? Remember, federal SSI in 2022 only pays out a maximum of $841/month for an individual (and $1261 for an individual with an eligible spouse). This amount is often not enough to meet basic needs every month. Some states add to this federal amount (only Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia do NOT).
OK, so can I get a job to supplement my SSI?
If you go back to work, some of those earnings will be subtracted from you monthly SSI benefit. Here’s an example:
You earn $1500/mo (this is before taxes are taken out). Social Security will ignore the first $20 of any income you have plus $65 of income you earn from working. You are now considered to be making $1415/month. Social Security then ignores ½ of that, leaving earnings of $707.50/month. This is still under the federal earnings rate for SSI in 2022 of $841. However, subtract your earnings of $707.50 from $841 and your monthly SSI benefit drops to $133.50/month.
You are also required to report earnings from work, including self-employment and the Ticket to Work Program, on a monthly basis. If you do not, you may find yourself suddenly cut off from SSI, even years after you started working, and faced with several $1,000s of dollars in overpayment that Social Security will demand you return.
There are many more details and rules than the basics outlined here. You should contact Social Security directly if you are receiving SSI disability and have gone back to work. You can call or visit your local office. You can also report earnings online at SSA.gov once you’ve created an online account or download their mobile wage reporting app (In the Apple App Store search SSI Mobile Wage Reporting).
Contact our office if you are in the process of filing for disability and would like further information.