Ten Common Reasons SSI Might be Denied or Stopped

Art: Robin Mead

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.”

Medical Decisions

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

17 thoughts on “Ten Common Reasons SSI Might be Denied or Stopped”

  1. On ssdi and ssi daughter is on ssi her father wants to move in he has no income he was a alcoholic and homeless for many years will our benefits be effected he is 63 and not in good health


  2. Thank you for your quick response, I feel like the worker didn’t understand just how much my grandfather really doesn’t understand the rules of SSI I was also unaware of such rules. He was told if he spent it now he would want a receipt as to what he spent it on.


    1. Yes, keeping receipts is a good idea. If he spends any money, you’ll want to show that the money was spent and not hidden or given away.

      If you wind up getting an overpayment notice, you can fill out the form for overpayment waiver. You would need to show that he could not afford to pay the money back.

      If he has money in the bank or if his income is more than his basic living expenses, they will probably find that he can pay it back.

      It may also be helpful if you enclose a letter from his doctor explaining how his health conditions kept him from being able to understand the rules

      I hope it goes well for you. Many many people get in this situation, the regulations are very confusing and difficult.


      1. He doesn’t have an income, he’s basically a retiree who became a US citizen. He doesn’t have the need to pay for rent or other bills because we his family never ask of it…that’s a reason he might of accumulated money from his SSI… If they take away his SSI would he be able to reapply ASAP?


        1. If you are giving him free rent that will lower his SSI check. How much is he receiving per month now?

          yes, he can start the SSI again at any time, he just has to address overpayment issues from the past, but it won’t stop him from getting ssi in the future.


          1. I don’t know how much he receives. I feel clueless about it all and like I said my grandfather is older and hard of hearing. I just think he deserves a new interview. Thank you again.


            1. Hi Joanna,

              I’m glad you are there to help your grandfather. Don’t worry everyone is clueless. The rules are really confusing.

              There is no point in requesting another interview if he is still over the financial limit. Nothing has changed.

              It doesn’t matter what the interview person says to you or how they act. All that matters is if your grandfather’s bank account is above the limit or under it.

              Many people find it helpful to learn the SSI rent rules. If your grandfather does not pay rent for the room he is living in, his check is lowered. If you’d like to learn more about this, there is more info here: https://howtogeton.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/how-to-figure-out-how-much-rent-to-pay-on-ssi/

              There is some more information on how to handle if your bank account is over the limit here: https://howtogeton.wordpress.com/options-and-next-steps-if-you-go-over-the-ssi-resource-limit/

              Hope this helps. ❤


              1. It seems to be we were really clueless to any of the rules. For now we hope they understand if they even will reconsider how my grandfather truly didn’t know he can “save” his SSI, I am also scared to even speak with them once they call back afraid I’ll say anything I honesty don’t know anything about.


                1. I understand.

                  I don’t think there is anything you need to be scared of. It doesn’t really matter what to say to them, all you have to do is tell the truth. They have to follow the rules either way.

                  A few more thoughts:
                  – If your grandfather is back under the limit at any point, you can request a new SSI appointment any time. Bring receipts and copies of his bank statements.

                  – It might be helpful to learn the rent regs and decide what arrangement your family wants for rent and utilities.

                  – He will probably get a notice in the mail asking him to pay money back. He can pay the money back, or file an overpayment waiver to show he can’t afford it, or they will reduce his check by 10%

                  Hope this helps. ❤


                  1. Sorry for all the questions but after all these years of my grandfather receiving SSI why the sudden interview?


                    1. They do interviews periodically. It’s just standard procedure. It’s good that they did the interview so you could find and fix the problem, otherwise it would have just gotten worse if it went on longer.


  3. Hello I am in California and I recently went to an SSI appoointment with my grandfather he was asked how much he has in his bank account and responded but the worker with wide eyes was shaking his head and told us that it was too much and it should not have been that much so he would call his bank and confirm
    I am asking if my grandfather had unwilingly known about this will he be reprimanded? He can hardly see and has trouble hearing.


    1. I’m sorry to hear this happened.

      If he goes back under the limit at some point, he is allowed to call back SSA and schedule another SSI interview.

      If he is over the limit now, he should not give money away.

      More information about the regulations for how ssi money can be spent: https://howtogeton.wordpress.com/2017/10/19/ssi-resource-regulations/

      He may get an overpayment notice – where social security requests money back. If this happens, you can help him file an overpayment waiver request:

      If the waiver request is denied, he can keep appealing it.

      Hope this helps.


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