Is it possible to work and receive SSI benefits?
It is difficult to work and maintain your eligibility for Supplemental Security Income. Unlike Social Security Disability where you can work and earn up to $860 gross (before taxes are withheld) per month, SSI only allows you to earn $85 gross (before taxes) each month before Social Security will start withholding from your SSI payment.
After the first $85 you earn in a month Social Security will start withholding $1 from your SSI check for every $2 you earn over the $85 limit. The problem with this reduction is once your SSI benefits are reduced to zero you will not be eligible for Medicaid insurance through your State.
Looking at an example, the maximum you can receive from SSI in most States for 2006 is $603 per month. If you were to work and earn more than $85 at what point would your SSI be reduced to zero? To calculate this amount multiply the amount of SSI you receive in a month by 2 and add $85. For our example above of $603 multiply by 2, $603*2 = $1206. Take this amount and add $85: $1206 + $85 = $1291. If you receive $603 per month and earn $1291 your SSI check will stop and you will lose your Medicaid coverage for that month.
Keep in mind that this $1291 is well above what Social Security considers “Significant Gainful Activity,” and if you are working and earning this amount you could lose your SSI benefits. The amount Social Security considers “Significant Gainful Activity” in 2006 is $860 of pre-tax earnings; if you stay under this amount you can maintain your eligibility for disability benefits. If your SSI is less than $603 and you are working, as long as you stay eligible for $1 of SSI you will keep your Medicaid eligibility.
If you have further questions about how work will affect your SSI benefits a representative from Social Security’s toll-free number can explain this for your particular situation. Remember when calculating the amount you can earn you have to use the actual amount you are currently receiving in your SSI check, as this amount will already have other income you receive factored into it. To speak to a representative about your SSI benefits contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.