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How much can I work while receiving SSI disability?

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How much can I work while receiving SSI disability?


Many people who apply and are eventually approved for Social Security benefits are surprised to find out at how minimal the amount of benefits they actually receive on a monthly basis. They typically receive just enough to live by, and have barely anything left after they pay for their housing and groceries.

Because they may need more money for their households, people often wonder how much work and income they can take on before their SSI benefits will be cut off permanently, especially if they are supporting other family members. The following facts can help them balance their benefits with their earned incomes without compromising either source of money.

Earned Income Exclusion

If you want or need to work to bring in extra income, you can benefit from the earned income exclusion which applies to SSI benefits. The latest guidelines allow you to make approximately $1500 a month before all of your benefits would be halted. In essence, the SSA would deduct $65 from your earned income and then deduct half of the remaining sum from your SSI benefits each month.

For example, if you make $1400 in earned income a month, the SSA would deduct the first $65, leaving you with $1335. It would then halve that amount and deduct that half from your SSI total each month. If you were approved for the current average individual SSI benefit of $721, you would receive $53.50 after the SSA deducts the earned income from your benefit total.

Cases of Special Exemptions

If you are a student or are considered to be legally blind, you could be subject to a slightly different exemption for this program. Students generally are allowed to earn up to $1750 before the SSA will cut off their SSI benefits.

Likewise, blind individuals can make up to $1800 a month before they will be considered as gainfully employed. These totals are gross income limits rather than net, however. If you meet either of these standards, you should understand how much you can make each month before taxes are taken out in order to qualify for SSI.

Knowing Your Asset Limits

In addition to keeping your earned income below a certain limit, you should also realize the total amount of assets that you can have in your possession while qualifying for SSI. In most cases, you are only allowed to have $2000 or less worth of assets under your name in order to qualify for these benefits. If you are married, you and your spouse can own $3000 in assets.

These assets exclude your home and your primary car which you use to drive to and from errands, doctors' appointments, and other common uses. However, items like stocks, insurance policies, real estate, and other assets could be counted against you if they exceed the stipulated value set by the SSA.

When to Seek Legal Advice

If you absolutely must work to support yourself or any dependents in your household, you can always safeguard your SSI eligibility status by hiring an attorney who specializes in this area of law. Your attorney can make sure that you stay within the legal limits for this program and avoid having your benefits cut off entirely. You can also ask your attorney for advice about self-employment or other means of income that could impact your SSI payments.

Many SSI recipients must work to bring in extra money. You can do so safely and legally by keeping these facts in mind about earning an income while also receiving these benefits.

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