SSI Regulations can be confusing and difficult to find and understand!
Sometimes people break the rules because they don’t know what the rules are.
Sometimes people get their check lowered and have no idea why or what happened.
Sometimes people are told they owe Social Security money back, even though they reported everything they were supposed to.
Luckily, none of these things will happen to you!
Here’s everything you need to know:
Pause for Station Identification
Before reading this page, please double check and make sure you know which program you are on. Many people get this wrong and wind up following the wrong rules. This page is only for SSI. Some of these rules also apply to Medicaid. Nothing here applies to SSDI or Medicare. How to Tell What You’re On
How to Survive on SSI – Important Survival Information. Please read.
“How I Get By On SSI” – Stories and tips from readers
SSI Resource Rules
If you are on SSI, you can have up to $2,000 in resources ($3,000 if married). Your resources must be below this number by the last day of each month. But wait! There’s a catch. Some things count as resources, and some don’t.
SSI Income Rules
Be prepared to get confused. Resources and income are different things!!! This is why so many people tell you that you can earn $2,000 on SSI and then get confused when it turns out not to be true. Learning the resource rules ain’t enough. You gotta learn the income rules too:
What To Do About Nice People Who Want to Give You Stuff
How you live and who you live with can affect your SSI check.
Marriage, Divorce, Widows, Children, Relationships
Adult Child Benefits
If you first became disabled before the age of 22 (no matter what age you are now) you may be able to go off SSI and instead get Adult Disabled Child Benefits. This is good! You want this.
SSI Ups & Downs
Things that can make your check stop or start or go up or go down.
You will be contacted for this when you first apply and/or right after you are approved and/or every few years while you are on SSI (except in some states where it happens a lot less often).
Working and SSI
Special Needs Trust – Please plan ahead
If You Have Questions, Don’t Call Social Security
SSI financial regs are complex, and the people who answer the phones at Social Security often give out wrong information in this area. We have heard from many readers who wound up in a wide variety of bad situations this way.
If you would like to research the policies yourself, they are all available here: Program Operation Manual. The search feature does not work, but you can search this manual here: Working Search Feature. Much easier to read and understand, but not as detailed and leaves some things out: Spotlights on SSI.
Your local office should also have one or more staff people who are trained in SSI financial regulations. If you can find out who that person is, you may be able to request an appointment. It’s still good to double check the written policies whenever possible.
Children on SSI
Most of the above links also apply to children. In addition:
Formula for How Parent’s Income Affect Child’s Check – Warning: Incredibly complicated. Do not read this link unless you are really hardcore.
SSI Rent & Mortgage Regs – Many parents do not know these regs, and it often causes problems.
How Much is the SSI Resource Limit? – Same link as above. We are repeating this because everyone gets it wrong when it comes to kids.
“I’m Happy My Check Didn’t Change”
Don’t be happy. If your finances or living situation changes, but your check doesn’t change, this is not necessarily a good thing. Social Security can take months or years to make a change, and by that time they may say you owe them thousands of dollars! If there is a change in your life, it is best to notify Social Security right away and to follow all the rules. If you still get an overpayment notice, see links above.
“I’m Sad My Check Didn’t Change”
Don’t be sad. If your finances change or living situation changes, but your check doesn’t change, you can take an action. Social Security will not change your check automatically. If you have had a change in your life, your check doesn’t just magically go up. You have to make the magic happen.