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. This page contains the most important rules you need to know so SSI can feel less confusing and easier to navigate.
Who Should Read This Page?
- People on SSI – Yes! Read this page.
- People on SSI plus SSDI – Yes! Read this page.
- People on SSI plus Disabled Adult Child Benefits – Yes! Read this page.
- People on SSDI only – No! Don’t read this page.
- People on Disabled Adult Child Benefits only – Maybe! You don’t need to follow these rules for Disabled Adult Child Benefits, but in some cases, you may need to stay within the SSI limits to keep Medicaid.
- What Am I On Right Now? SSI or SSDI?
- Are You SURE You Are REALLY Applying For Both SSI and SSDI?
- What’s the Difference Between SSI and SSDI?
- What’s Disabled Adult Child Benefits?
- How Poor Do I Have to Be? (Simple Answer)
- How Poor Do I Have to Be? (Excruciating Answer)
- Can I Get Both SSI and SSDI?
- What if I’m Married to Someone With Income?
- If My Life Changes, Will I Become Eligible?
You will be contacted for this when you first apply and/or right after you are approved and/or every year or so while you are on SSI. What happens and what will they ask? How to Handle an SSI Interview (PERC)
SSI Resource Rules
Special rules about stuff you own and money in the bank:
- What is the Resource Limit?
- What Counts as a Resource?
- When Do Resources Count?
- How to Handle If You Are Over the Resource Limit
- How to Own Two Cars
- I Live with Other People. Do Their Resources Count?
SSI Income Rules
Special rules about stuff you get or money you are given:
- How Does Income Affect My SSI Check?
- How You Can (and can’t) Make Money While on SSI
- I Live with Other People. Does Their Income Count?
- How Can I Keep Child Support and Alimony from Lowering SSI?
- SSA Policy: What is Not Income?
What To Do About Nice People Who Want to Give You Stuff
- I’m On SSI. Can a Person or Program Pay My Bills?
- I’m on SSI. Can someone give me a gift or inheritance?
- I’m on SSI. Can I Start an Online Fundraiser?
- I’m on SSI. What happens if someone gives me a free place to live?
What To Do With Money
- Safe Ways to Save or Spend Money
- How Am I Allowed to Spend Money While on SSI?
- How Am I Allowed to Save Money While on SSI?
How you live and who you live with can affect your SSI check.
- SSI Living Arrangement Regs
- SSI Food Regs
- Living With a Boyfriend or Girlfriend
- Marraige, Divorce, Separation, Children, Widows
- Homeless Regulations
How Much Rent or Mortgage to Pay
How much rent or mortgage you pay can affect your SSI check
- SSI Rent & Mortgage Regs
- Figuring Out Your Household Expenses
- Figuring Out Your Share
- Special Rules if You Live with the Homeowner
- Making Sure Your SSI Check is Correct
- How To Pay Rent While Waiting
- Rental Loan Agreements
- Special Exceptions
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Four SSI Rent Examples
SSI Ups & Downs
Things that can make your check stop or start or go up or go down.
- How Much is Maximum SSI?
- Ten Common Reasons SSI Might Be Low
- Ten Common Reasons SSI Might be Denied or Stopped
- How to Make SSI Go Up or Down
- How to Report and Change an SSI Check
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
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.
Debt collectors cannot garnish your SSI check for any reason under any circumstances. But they can annoy you and they can try to freeze your bank account. Luckily, there are some laws that protect you: Debt & Disability
Working and SSI
- What Changes Do I Need to Report to Social Security?
- How to Report and How to Get Your Check to Change
- How To Respond When Social Security Tells You That You Owe Money Back
- How Sandra Got Her Overpayments Waived
If You Have Questions
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.
If you are currently on SSI, you can also call the local Social Security office and ask for the name and contact info of the worker assigned to your SSI case. This person will be trained in SSI policy and is more likely to know the correct answer. If you feel a specific rule is not being followed correctly, you can request to speak to a “Technical Expert.” If you call the main number, whatever you do, never ask questions to the person who answers the phone.
Here’s a list of people and places you may be able to contact for help if you are having a problem with Social Security or if you cannot get your questions answered. Contacting your Congressperson’s office can be especially helpful.
Children on SSI
Most of the above links also apply to children. In addition:
- Overview of SSI and Family Income Chart
- 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.
- Protecting SSI from Child Support
- Child Support and SSI