Can You Get More SSI Disability?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has over 2,700 rules in its handbook. If you are thinking about applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits or have a question about the amount you are currently receiving, this can be a confusing process.
Understandably, you want to maximize the amount that you receive in SSI benefits. There may be a few ways to do this depending on your circumstances. As always, it helps to understand the rules when it comes to any SSA benefits.
How to Qualify for SSI Benefits
Supplemental Security Income is different than the SSA’s other program, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), in one primary way. SSDI requires that you have worked for a certain number of years and paid FICA taxes. SSI does not have this work credit requirement but does limit you in other ways.
SSI provides disability and assistance payments to qualified individuals. According to the SSA’s rules, you cannot exceed an income limit, which is referred to as the federal benefit rate (FBR). In 2018, the FBR is $750 per month for an individual and $1,126 for couples.
Even if your income is over this limit, you might still qualify because the SSA only counts part of that income in its calculation. Specifically, there are certain things that SSA counts as income and others that it excludes. Some of the things that count as income include:
- Money earned for any work performed, also referred to as “earned” income
- Payments received from other sources such as a pension, child support, alimony, the VA, or other SSA benefits, also referred to as “unearned” income
- The value of free shelter and food benefits from any nongovernmental source
- A portion of any earned income by other household members
Items that are excluded in the SSA’s income calculation include:
- $65 of monthly “earned” income wages and 50% of the remainder over $65
- $20 of monthly “unearned” income
- Any wages that are designated for special impairment-related work expenses (IRWE) such as for blind or disabled persons
- The first $60 of unearned income in a quarter that is considered irregular
- The first $30 of earned income in a quarter that is considered irregular
- Food stamps
- Medical care
- Housing or home energy assistance
- Reimbursement of expenses from a social services agency
Can You Get More SSI Disability Payments?
The simplest way to increase your SSI payments is through a change in your income calculation, either what counts as income or what is excluded. For example, If your earned income goes down or child support payments cease, you may be entitled to higher SSI payments. You may also have some new exclusions that you didn’t have in the past, such as medical care or food stamps, that will alter your income level.
SSI benefits generally increase each year as well (the increase was $15 for individuals in 2018). So, if you are already at the maximum benefit and still qualify for the increase, you should see an adjustment in your payment. This isn’t something that you will need to request.
Another way that you can get more than the maximum from the SSA for your SSI benefit is if your state provides a supplemental benefit. Alabama does have a supplemental program, and the weekly payment ranges from $56 to $196 per individual depending on their disability and living arrangements. Provided any of these factors change over time, the SSI benefit could be adjusted accordingly.
Need Help with an SSI Claim in Alabama?
SSI cases can be complex, even when disability is clear. There are many factors that the SSA uses to determine eligibility for a claim as well as your benefit level. Any error in an application could result in a claim denial or your receiving a weekly benefit that is much lower than you deserve.
At Walton Law, we assist residents of Mobile and Baldwin County who are seeking benefits from the SSA. This includes initial applications for SSDI and SSI as well as appeal cases when a claim has been unjustly denied.
We provide free case evaluations and don’t charge any fee unless we recover benefits on your behalf. Contact our Mobile disability benefits lawyer now at 251-455-5819 or reach us online to schedule your consultation.