Many people do not understand how their receipt of Supplemental Security Income, or SSI benefits, are affected by their continued employment. There are some things to understand concerning your SSI benefits if you still work.


The Social Security Administration will need to be notified immediately if you have begun working. You will need to report your earnings on a monthly basis to the SSA. The amount you earn will be used to tally the new benefit amount you will receive in SSI. However, the first $65 you earn will not be included in the tally, or the amount can be as much as up to $85 if you do not have any other sources of income.


For those that earn more than the $65 or $85 totals, your SSI benefit will be reduced by $1 for every $2 you earn. The Social Security Administration’s website lists the following example:


If you earned $500.00 (gross wages) in March 2013 and do not have other income or work expenses, this is how we compute your SSI benefit:

Step 1: $500.00 minus $85 equals $415.00;


Step 2: $415.00 divided by 2 equals $207.50. We use $207.50 as the amount of earnings we count to reduce your SSI benefit;


Step 3: $710.00 (2013 maximum SSI monthly benefit). We then subtract $207.50; and


Step 4: $502.50 (Your SSI benefit amount)


If, while employed, you need to purchase devices or services related to your impairment, you can have those costs excluded from the amount you earn. This will increase your SSI benefit amount. Examples of eligible costs include medications, service animals, therapy or counseling services, or screen reader devices. For those with a blind impairment, additional work-related expenses can also be deducted including transportation for work, visual/sensory aids, taxes, and care services.


You must submit expenses for approval but will not be reimbursed for these costs. You will also need to submit proof that you paid for the items yourself. Any expense deductions are subtracted from your earnings before the benefits are reduced by a dollar for every two dollars you earn.


SSI recipients can earn up to $1,505 a month before their benefits are reduced to $0 provided there are no work-related expenses and you do not have another source of income. Once SSI benefits cease, Medicaid coverage can provide benefits depending on your wage earnings or if you have specific costs associated with medical or personal care services. Those that earn too much to qualify for either SSI benefits or Medicaid benefits will have 12 months from the date of the last eligibility to file again for SSI benefits without having to complete a new application.