This article is about SSI. If you are on SSDI read this instead.
If you don’t know what you are on read this instead.
One: Social Security Believes You are No Longer Disabled
From time to time, Social Security will send you a disability review. If your review does not go well, don’t panic. Sometimes this is due to an administrative mistake (like lost mail or missing medical records). Sometimes there is something in your medical records you need to address or more information you need to provide: How to Appeal a Continuing Disability Review
Two: You are Working Over the Limit
If you are working while on disability, there are a few rules it may be helpful to know: How to Work Without (Too Much) Trouble
Three: You Have Too Much Money
If you have too much money, you will not qualify for SSI. The limit is $2,000 for a single person and $3,000 for a married couple. If you are over the limit, there are some Social Security policies that can assist you. How to Handle If You Are Over the SSI Resource Limit
Four: You Own Too Much Stuff
You are allowed to own one car and one house. You can also have as many ordinary household items as you want. What Counts as a Resource for SSI? If you have too many assets, there are certain rules you need to know: How to Handle If You Are Over the Resource Limit. One common way this can happen to parents and married couples is If You Own Two Cars.
Five: You are Not Aware of the SSI Regulations
SSI Regulations can be confusing and difficult to find and understand! Many people break the regulations simply because they do not know what they are: All the SSI Regs
Six: Your Life Has Changed but Your Check Did Not Come Back
Changes to your check don’t happen by magic. Some people think Social Security will always send them the correct amount of money and if their life changes their check will just magically adjust to the correct amount. No, no, no. You must make the magic happen. SSI checks will often go up or down because of marriage, divorce, separation, starting working, stopping working, or change in household income.
Seven: Social Security Made a Mistake
If SSI ever discontinues or denies your check, and you don’t agree or don’t understand why, you have the right to appeal within 60 days. A regular disability lawyer will not help you with this situation. Your local nonprofit low-income legal aid center may help. However, you do not need a lawyer, you can just send in a request for reconsideration form. If that doesn’t work, don’t give up, you can appeal. If SSI is continuing to make a mistake with your check, contact your Congressperson. They may be able to help.
Eight: Your SSDI Check is Too High
Most people get a disability check of at least Maximum SSI. This is the amount for your part of the check only – don’t count if extra benefits were added for your kids. If your part of the check is already this high, you can’t get SSI no matter what you do. You don’t need to be here reading this list.
Nine: You Got Turned Down for SSI, But Now Your Life Has Changed
Some people apply for both SSI and SSDI but get turned down for the SSI. They do not realize that when time passes and their life changes, they can apply again. If your situation has changed now, you can apply again at any time. For example, if you got divorced, or separated, or stopped working, or if you had money in the bank that you spent, or any of the many other Things that Can Make an SSI Check Go Up or Down. Depending on how much time has passed, they may just sign you up automatically, or you may be required to start a new application.
Ten: Your Check Got So Low It Vanished
There are a bunch of things that can make your check lower. If you do enough of these things, eventually your check may get so low it will just disappear!
Holding On For Too Long
We heard from one reader who accidentally had too much money one month. She was afraid she would have to pay the money back, so she kept it… for two years. Disaster! If she spent the money, she would have owed one month back. Instead, she owed two years back! Don’t do this. Every month that you have too much money or assets is one more month that you will owe money back.
Yet another cautionary tale: We heard from another reader who inherited a house. Instead of keeping the house, she sold it. Instead of buying a new house, she just kept the money. Disaster! She lost her SSI for three years. Remember, you are allowed to own a house you live in. You are not allowed to keep money in the bank. If you have money in the bank, you are allowed to put it in a trust or spend it in certain ways.
If Someone Told You That You Can’t Apply for SSI
Many people are told this and it turns out not to be true. Never take no for an answer over the phone. Never take no for an answer in a meeting. Unless you have been turned down IN WRITING you have not been turned down at all. If you are feeling confused about the rules or you are being told conflicting information, there’s a very good chance this is happening because someone is mixing up the resource room with the income rules. Totally different rules! How to Tell the Difference Between the (Super Confusing) Income and Resource Rules for SSI
If You Are Married to Someone With Income
Social Security Disability has some specific rules that make it difficult for married people to apply in certain situations. If someone is telling you that you cannot apply because of your spouse’s income, don’t give up hope quite yet. Here’s a few options you can explore first: How to Apply for Disability if You Are Married to Someone With Income
If You are Living with a Boyfriend or Girlfriend
Sometimes Social Security will treat a boyfriend or girlfriend as a spouse: “I’m living with a boyfriend or girlfriend.”
There are two ways an SSI check can stop:
1) Financial – You are too rich! (You may not feel too rich)
2) Medical – Your condition is better!
If you are still disabled, then it is important to Keep Up Good Medical Records While On Disability.
Most medical reviews are approved. If you are still disabled and you do have a problem with your review, then we have one word for you: Appeal. We’ll say it again: Appeal, appeal, appeal. There are at least two appeals you can do, sometimes more. Don’t give up hope. Most appeals are successful. See the link above to learn what they look for when making review decisions.
Special Rules for Parents and Spouses
Your SSI may be affected by your parent’s finances (if you are under age 18) or by your spouses finances (if you live with your spouse). This is called deeming. There are a few exceptions: How to Avoid Deeming
Find Out More
If your check is stopped for financial reasons, and you don’t know why, you can contact your caseworker at Social Security and ask if they can help you by explaining why your check stopped or why you were denied. Make sure to let them know you are not requesting a new SSI interview right now, you are just asking them to explain to you the last decision that was made. You want to figure out what the problem is before requesting a new interview.
It is best to talk directly to your caseworker. Ask to speak to the person who handles your case, or to speak with a Service Representative who specializes in SSI. Do not ask the random person who answers the phone or stands behind the ticket window or you may be told something weird.
If you spoke with your caseworker but you are still having trouble understanding what is going on with your SSI check, you can post below or check out this page on How to Solve Your Social Security Problems