What Is the Max Income You Can Make When You Have SSI?

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Supplemental Security Income bases monthly benefits on need. If you have monthly income, you may not continue to qualify for SSI every month. The Social Security Administration conducts the SSI program with SSI rules and general revenue funds. The source of income determines how much it counts for SSI benefits.

Earned Income

  • If you work, earned income has a $65 monthly exemption for SSI in 2011. Social Security subtracts earned income in excess of the $65 at 50 percent for SSI. If you earn $185 for the month, the first $65 does not count. Of the $120 remaining, only half of it counts, so divide by 2. Subtract $60 from your SSI payment to arrive at the reduced benefit. You must report earnings within 10 days of the end of the month. Social Security personnel make the calculations that affect your SSI check two months forward.

Unearned Income

  • Unearned income comes from sources like Social Security, veterans' benefits, interest and dividends. The unearned income exemption in 2011 is $20 and Social Security subtracts unearned income above that amount at 100 percent for SSI. If you receive unearned income, subtract the first $20 from the income and subtract the remainder from your SSI check amount. If you receive $50 in unearned income for the month, subtract $20 as exempt. Subtract the remaining $30 from your SSI benefits. Social Security withholds this amount from your check two months forward.

Maximum Earned Income

  • If you are working and receiving SSI, your income offsets the benefits you receive. You can earn about $1,433 in income in a month and SSI benefits are $0. Assume you earn $1,433 to see how it works. Subtract $65 exempt earned income off the top for a remainder of $1,368. If you do not use the $20 for unearned income, you can use it here. Subtract $20 more in exempt income. Divide $1,348 by 2 because earned income counts at 50 percent or half. The remainder is $674, the SSI federal benefit base amount at time of publication.

Maximum Unearned Income

  • If you receive unearned income during a month you collect SSI, you must report the unearned income amount at the end of the month. The maximum unearned income in 2011 is $694 before the SSI benefit offsets to $0. Because Social Security subtracts unearned income at 100 percent, subtract the $20 exemption from the unearned income received. Subtract the remainder from your SSI benefit to calculate the offset.

Other Factors

  • Some individuals do not receive the total federal benefit base amount because of deductions for living arrangements. If you do not pay your fair share of rent and utilities, Social Security deducts as much as one-third of your SSI check under living arrangements provisions. You may also reside in a state that adds a supplement to SSI checks and your base amount may be greater than $674 in 2011. These calculations show how to determine the monthly income allowed with SSI using the base amount only. If you have a month in which you receive no benefits because of income, your benefits do not stop. Your next month will continue as usual if you continue reporting. SSI has programs that allow income for special purpose designations that does not count in your earned and unearned income.

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