If you are disabled or elderly and have a low household income, supplemental security income can provide you with extra cash for living expenses each month. As of August 2013, it isn't possible to exhaust SSI benefits. As long as you continue to meet eligibility requirements, you can keep receiving SSI benefits indefinitely.
SSI is available to people who are disabled or older than 65 and have countable income below the federal SSI benefit rate. The amount of your monthly benefit will be equal to the difference between the benefit rate and your countable monthly income. For example, if your countable income is $400 and the federal benefit rate is $700, you will receive a monthly SSI payment of $300. Countable income is your gross monthly income minus allowable deductions. To receive SSI, you also must have no more than $2,000 worth of resources as a single person or $3,000 as a couple.
Keeping Your Benefits
You can keep your benefits as long as your income, resources and disability status remain within Social Security's limits. If your situation changes, you must report the changes to Social Security, and Social Security may alter your benefit amount, suspend your benefits or discontinue them. For example, if you report that your countable monthly income will now exceed the federal benefit rate, you will no longer receive SSI. Likewise, if you report a decrease in income, your SSI benefit may increase to compensate for it.
Periodically, the Social Security Administration will review your case to ensure that you should still be receiving SSI. During the review, Social Security will ask you to verify your income and resources. If you are receiving SSI benefits because of a disability, you also will need to verify that you are still disabled through medical reviews, which are conducted separately. Social Security may conduct either type of review in person, by mail or by phone.
If you report temporary changes in your circumstances to Social Security, such as an inheritance, Social Security may alter your benefits temporarily. If you fail to report changes to Social Security, you may lose up to $100 in penalties from your SSI benefits. If Social Security determines that you purposefully attempted to hide information, or if you purposefully provide false information, you may lose your benefits altogether for six to 24 months.
Amanda McMullen is a freelancer who has been writing professionally since 2010. She holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics and statistics and a second bachelor's degree in integrated mathematics education.