To determine whether you qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, the Social Security Administration will look at the total amount of your income and resources. Generally speaking, a single person with combined resources of less than $2,000 or couples whose resources total less than $3,000 will be able to get SSI benefits.

What Is Counted as Income by Social Security?

  • Earned income. This includes wages from a job or from self-employment, royalties, and other earnings.
  • Unearned income. These are financial benefits that you do not work for, such as pensions, federal and state disability payments, unemployment benefits, interest and dividends, and cash payments from friends and family.
  • Living income. This includes food or shelter that you receive for free or at a reduced rate.
  • Deemed income. This is income provided by another household member, such as spouse, parent, guardian, or sponsor.
  • Holdings. These are any assets you may own that have cash value, such as real estate, stocks, or bonds.

What Is Not Counted as Income by Social Security?

The Social Security Administration understands that some of your resources are necessary for daily living and do not count toward your income. In deciding whether you qualify for SSI, Social Security does NOT count:

  • The house you live in
  • Your car
  • Life insurance policies worth less than $1,500
  • Burial plots purchased for you and your family members
  • Burial funds for you and your spouse (up to $1,500 for an individual and $3,000 per couple)
  • The first $20 of your monthly income
  • The first $65 of any monthly income earned by working
  • Government food stamps provided by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Wages or scholarships (if you are a student)

There are additional resources that may not be counted if you are disabled but remain employed. For example, Social Security does not count funds used to pay for items or services that help you to work, such as a wheelchair, bus fare, or special assistance devices that help you perform your job.

Most people who are eligible for SSI can receive Medicare and other types of government assistance. Do you want to learn more? Sign up to receive our free newsletter for more valuable information and tips.

Timothy J. Cuddigan (Founder - Retired)
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Omaha Social Security and Veterans Disability Lawyer With Over 40 Years Experience