Calculating the amount of money your spouse can earn before it affects your SSI -- Supplemental Security Income -- benefits is not easy. It involves several calculations and varies by the number of children you still support, the amount of unearned income you or a spouse have, the amount of money you have to spend on impairment related work expenses, blind work expenses or money you need to spend to achieve self support.
Finding the Spousal Income
Finding out how much of the spouse's income counts against your SSI payment requires a worksheet. Social Security refers to this process as "deeming the spouses income." In this process you use both the earned and unearned income of the SSI non-qualifying spouse.
Earned VS. Unearned Income
Social Security counts any wages from a job or self-employment, including sheltered workshop payments, honoraria and some royalties as earned income. They count pensions, Social Security benefits, interest income, unemployment, interest or investment income and money from friends as unearned income. There are two other forms of income, deemed income from spouses and in-kind income that is free or below fair market cost for shelter or food from friends and relatives.
The first step uses the amount of unearned income of your spouse. From that amount, you subtract the federal allocation per child, which was $337 in May 2011. The federal allocation per child is half the amount of the individual SSI rate minus any income the child has. The child must be "ineligible." This means they receive no form of public assistance such as Cal Works or child SSI. If your spouse has no unearned income, you save the child deduction to subtract from the spouses earned income.
Earned Income Deductions
List the monthly earned income of the spouse. If you had any portion of the child deduction not used against your spouse's unearned income, you subtract that from your spouse's earned income. If the remainder is less than $337, the difference between the individual and couples rate, you receive the full amount of SSI, and there's no need to continue calculating.
Additional Spousal Income
If you went through the previous calculations and found that your spouse's income, after deducting for children, was higher than $337, you then add it to any earned or unearned income you have. Subtract $85 dollars from that amount -- $20 income exclusion and $65 earned income exclusion. Take off any impairment related work expenses, business expenses or subsidies and divide the amount by half. Then subtract any blind work expenses and you have the countable couple's income.
Once you calculate the couple's countable income, you subtract it from the 2011 combination of state and federal benefit rates for couples -- $1,011 federal plus $233 state equals $1,244. You receive the amount left after you subtract your income. If that amount is zero or negative, you receive no payment. If there is an amount left, you receive either the individual benefit or that amount, whichever is less.