Supplemental Security Income is an additional benefit paid to those who have little or no income. The goal is for this income to help them meet basic needs when it comes to buying clothing, shelter and food.
It's not always reasonable to expect someone to live on disability benefits alone, which is why SSI benefits exist today. For those who are still struggling, SSI benefits can significantly increase their income and help them live more comfortably.
What happens to SSI benefits when you want to return to work?
When you're considering returning to work, you need to know about SSI work incentives. These incentives help people with disabilities work toward going back on the job while minimizing the loss of their benefits, like SSI or Medicaid. For example, some incentives work by not counting some of your income or resources, while others allow you to receive Medicaid coverage without SSI benefits.
The best thing about the Social Security Administration's program is that there are multiple work incentive programs to try, and you can do more than one at a time.
Presently, there is an earned-income exclusion to help those with disabilities earn without losing benefits. For the first $65 you earn each month, none will count toward your benefits. On top of that, half of the amount you earn over $65 won't be counted toward the reduction of your SSI benefit. Younger individuals, such as students under 22, may have the right to up to $1,870 of their income being excluded, so that they can work without losing Medicaid, SSI or disability benefits.
Looking at SSI, it's important for you to know what kind of income won't be excluded. Certain things, like the costs of medicines, copays and assistive techology may be deducted from your income, so that your income won't affect your SSI or Medicaid.
It can be complicated to know exactly what kinds of income are going to be excluded or used toward your income limit, which is why most people who want to obtain SSI or maintain SSI when going back to work talk to their attorneys first. It's a reasonable expectation for SSI to reduce over time, but those with disabilities still have a right to protect as many of those benefits as possible. Even though you're working, SSDI, SSI and Medicaid may still be available for you, depending on how much you earn.