Loading...
You are here:  Home  >  SSI  >  Current Article

How does the Social Security Administration decide how much SSI to pay me when I get an SSI approval?

By   /   59 Comments

Learn how SSI benefits are calculated after an SSI approval and what kinds of income are countable when determining your SSI payment amount.

ssi-approval

When SSI Benefits Start

After an SSI approval, benefits will be paid for the first full calendar month after you apply or after you become eligible for SSI, whichever is later.

The SSI Payment Formula

The Social Security Administration, known as SSA, figures your federal SSI benefit by deducting your countable unearned income and your countable earned income from the maximum Federal Benefit Amount of $721 for individuals and $1,082 for a couple. The remainder is your Federal Amount Payable. Some examples will follow later in this article.

State Supplements

Some states pay a supplementary benefit to individuals who qualify for SSI or do not qualify only because of income or resources that are above the federal limits but below the state’s limits. Some states administer their own supplements and require application or contact with the state. Other states turn the administration of their state supplement over to the Social Security Administration. If your state has a supplement that you could qualify for and the state handles its own administration, your Social Security office will direct you to the appropriate agency to make application. For a list of states with state supplements, see “Index of States That Supplement Payment When You Apply for SSI Benefits.”

When Income is Counted for SSI

After you get an SSI approval, your ongoing financial eligibility for SSI is decided on a month-by-month basis. This means you can be eligible in one month, not in the next, and then eligible again in the following month.

Your first three months of benefits are calculated based on your income in the first month of eligibility. After that, unless eligibility is interrupted, your payment will usually be based on income received two months before. For example, if you became eligible in March 2014, your countable income, including deemed income, that you received in March 2014 would determine your payment amount in March, April and May 2014. Then April’s income would determine June’s payment; May’s income would determine your July payment, and so on. From this example, we can see how important it is to report changes by the tenth of the month after the change. Reporting on time minimizes underpayments and overpayments, which you might have to repay.

If eligibility is interrupted, the next three months are calculated based on income in the first month eligibility is reestablished. For example, if you received benefits from March 2014 through August 2014 and then were ineligible for payment in September because of excess income or resources, when your benefits resumed in October 2014, your October, November, and December 2014 SSI disability benefits would be calculated using your October income. This calculation convention is also used when an adult SSI recipient or the parents of a child receiving SSI have a change in marital status.

For a discussion of which types of income are countable and which are not, please see our articles “I Want to Work. Can You Tell Me How to Get SSI While Working?” and “When I Complete My SSI Application Form, It Asks Me to Declare My Income. Does All My Income Affect My SSI?

Pages: 1 2 3

    Print       Email

59 Comments

  1. Patty says:

    kay, I became disabled August of 09 but did not file for disability until November 2013.. i have been approved but was wondering how far back will i get back pay or retro pay. Thanks!

  2. Kristina says:

    My son was approved for ssi benefits. He received his first payment on February 3 Rd. When I went to the office on Friday to try to get an award letter because i hadn’t received one, I was told that his payment for March would be zero because of the amount they estimated my husband made for January. However, their estimate was way off from what he actually made. Will they get an actual amount from my husbands employer? Should I bring in my husbands paystubs for January to the office on Monday?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Kristina,

      You are responsible for providing proof of your husband’s earnings, which do affect your son’s benefit amount, so yes, do take your husband’s pay stubs to the office. Be sure that they take a copy and return the originals to you.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  3. Jennifer says:

    If i have been receiving cash assistance from dta/welfare while waiting for my ssdi to be approved am i responsible to pay all that back to welfare and how far back. That would basically be all my backpay im praying no i would appreciate so feedback if anyone knows the answer plz email me at Jennifer113@gmail thanku

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jennifer,

      Your welfare office can tell you how far back you will have to repay the assistance that you have received. I would expect it to be at least back to the date of your Social Security entitlement. If you are approved for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability, the money will be withheld from your back pay and paid directly to the state or county agency that assisted you. If you are approved for Social Security only, you will need to make the repayment yourself.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  4. Sharon Cook says:

    I got approved for my SSI on February 7th, 2014 after fighting for 4 yrs, When will I get my first monthly check?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Sharon,

      It will likely be a few weeks before you receive your first Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment. You will need to submit financial information going back to when you first applied so that the Social Security Administration can determine whether you were financially eligible during the whole time and, if so, for how much each month. Your regular monthly payment will probably be paid first and then the retroactive benefits will be paid in installments six months apart.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  5. Kim Phipps says:

    My 6-month old son just received his first check last week. How do I know if the check is back pay or the monthly amount? Also, why were there no instructions included such as what the money can be spent on?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Kim,

      If the amount of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) check was more than $721, the check is back pay.

      As your son’s representative payee, you must use the funds for his needs–food, shelter, diapers, medical care, childcare if you are working, etc. If any amount is not needed, it should be saved for his future needs. You can get a pamphlet from the Social Security Administration that describes your responsibilities. You should keep a written record of how you spend the money so that when you are asked to complete an accounting once a year, you will have the information you need nice and handy.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

      • Kim Phipps says:

        Thank you so much for your reply! My only other question is this: if I received back-pay, isn’t that only to be used for medical expenses? Thank you again for being so helpful.

  6. Roxy says:

    Hey,
    What if child support paid back the welfare for what I received well waiting for ssi to be approved. Would they still take the amount or give back the child support? Im still waiting on decision of how much they will give me back.

    Thanks

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Roxy,

      You need to check with the welfare office for a fully informed answer, but I believe that if you do not owe any money paid by welfare and you do not owe back child support, no money will be withheld from benefits paid by the Social Security Administration.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  7. Elora says:

    My husband was told by his local case worker that his first installment of backpay for ssi was released on March 13th. We have had the Ditect Express xard for about a month now and have been checking it frequently. The ssa website says a one time deposit was made on 3/14/14 but today is the 16th and no $$ on the card still?? Is there something wrong?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Elora,

      It can take a couple of nightly bank runs to transfer funds. Hopefully, the payment has loaded to your card by now. If it has not, you need to report non-receipt to the Social Security Administration.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  8. heather says:

    hi,
    i have a question i got approved for social security February 21st 2014 and they owe me back pay from January 2012 what should i get first and when should i receive my first payment
    thank you and have a wonderful day

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Heather,

      If you did not also file a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim, you may get your retroactive payment first though that is not guaranteed. The amount you will receive will depending on your earnings before becoming disabled and your age. You can request an earnings statement either online at http://www.ssa.gov or by calling 1-800-772-1213 that will estimate your monthly benefit. Multiply that times the number of months since January 2012.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  9. Jess says:

    My son was just approved for SSI. We’re waiting for the last step, verifying income. He receives $198 per month in child support. I know SSA will deduct some of the funds for that. However, I don’t work and we live with my grandparents. I don’t pay rent but I am responsible for myself and son.

    I receive money from SNAP and I use the child support money (which isn’t much) for any extras like clothes or the occasional game. I don’t have a car or assets. I don’t receive money from the grandparents, only shelter (which I of course appreciate). My concern is that since we live with my grandparents SSI will look at their income as well. I’ve talked to 20 different SSA workers and received different answers every time. Some say the grandparents’ income won’t be taken into account, others say it may.

    This seems like a very unique question and I’ve had problems finding an answer. Thank you.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jess,

      Your grandparents’ income will not be considered in determining your son’s SSI payment amount. Initially his payments will reduced for free shelter by an amount equal to the lesser of one-third of the maximum possible benefit and his prorata share of shelter expenses. For example, if there are four of you in the household, his share would be one-quarter of the shelter expenses. For example, if the rent (or mortgage and property taxes) and utilities (excluding phone) come to $1,600 a month, his share would be $400; however,one-third of the maximum SSI is $240.33, so his SSI benefit would be reduced by that amount. Once he starts getting benefits, you can start paying his share of shelter expenses to his grandparents. Two months after he starts paying his share, his SSI will be increased by $240.33.
      (Your grandparents will have to provide proof the the shelter expenses and make a statement that you are paying his share once that happens.)

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  10. Juicyduke says:

    I applied for ssi benefits for my child in April of 2012. I was denied in August 2012. I did not appeal. I filed again in January 2014 and we just got approved March 31. Will my child receive backpay from the first time we applied and were denied or only from the latest application since we didn’t appeal?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Juicy,

      Because you did not appeal the first denial, your child’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments will be based on the January 2014 application.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  11. Matthew says:

    I had got approved for SSI and was receiving the minimum and know that I am married and my wife is my payee can I still get more money since now I am a couple or is it just with certain states a use I am from Texas

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Matthew,

      No SSI is paid for dependents, so getting married will not increase your SSI.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  12. dolphingirl89 says:

    I am aready getting SSI/SSA and was wondering If I moved in with my grandfather, would my benefit be decreased. I already talked to him and would be giving him 300 a month for my room and the cost of bills. Plus buying my own food and making meals seperate.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Dolphin Girl,

      Your Social Security Disability will not be affected by moving in with your grandfather.

      If you live in his home as a renter and if $300 plus utilities is market value for the room (the amount he would charge anyone) and you buy your own food, your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) should not go down. You do need to report your move to Social Security. You will need a statement from your grandfather including the date you move in, that he’s renting you a room and the amount you will pay for rent and utilities and the fact that you will buy your own food.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

      • dolphingirl89 says:

        ok thank you and what would iit do for his ssi?? it wont go down will it??

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Dolphin Girl,

          If your grandfather is getting Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and not Social Security, your being a boarder and paying rent may cause his SSI to go dow because the rent you pay him may be treated as income. If it is affordable for you, you could move in as a member of his household, instead of as a renter, and pay half of the rent or mortgage and half the utilities, while buying your own food. If you did this neither your or your grandfather’s SSI would be decreased. If you want to or need to stick to your original plan of paying rent, I suggest that before you move in you and your grandfather go to a Social Security office and find out for sure whether your being a boarder and paying rent will result in a decrease in his benefits.

          Sincerely,

          Kay

  13. Amazing Mom says:

    If my son was approved for social security March 3rd when will I receive his first payment

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Amazing Mom,

      Payment can take from a few weeks to two months or more to begin depending whether your son is eligible for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income Disability or both and on current workloads in the local office and/or payment center. You can contact the local office to find out what, if anything, you need to submit to get payment started.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  14. lisa says:

    Today is May 1st 2014vi have phone intetview to discuss income resources and living arrangements for my ssi how long after this will I receive benefits?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Lisa,

      If you have already received a medical approval of your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim, payment can begin anywhere from a week to several weeks after the interview depending on whether you are asked to submit documentation and on whether the office is backlogged.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  15. Bree Blanco says:

    Hello I have a question. I just found out my son has autism. Im still in the process of finishing his iep because I want to check out his schools first so we haven’t close it yet. I receive calworks for him and my other 2 kids. I’m a full time student, I’m not employed and their father got deported one year ago. Can my son receive ssi?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Bree,

      Whether or not your son will qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits will depend on how severely limited he is. I suggest that you file the application and get a formal decision. No payments are made for periods before the date of an SSI application, so I recommend getting the claim started as promptly as possbile to avoid possible loss of benefits. To support the claim, provide all medical and psychological evaluations, school evaluations, and instructional plans for your son.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  16. Kris says:

    My fiancé was just approved for SSI. He first became disabled when he got real sick with meningitis in December 2012. In August 2013 he underwent brain surgery then a second brain surgery in Sept 2013 and in between has had several other medical problems that are in the process of treatment. He applied for Social Security in December 2013 and we just found out he got approved but they are only paying back to December 2013. He was told you have to be disabled for AT LEAST a year to be eligible. He has been disabled for longer than a year and they are only paying him for 5 months worth? And they calculated an estimate of him getting 700-800 a month based on what he has paid into Social Security and now that he is approved, they said he is only getting 480 a month. This just doesn’t seem right. We reside in WV. Is there a way to file for disagreement or is there anything we can do to fight this?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Kris,

      I suggest that your fiance contact Social Security for an explanation of which benefits he will be getting–Social Security Disability (SSD) based on his earnings record or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) which is a public assistance program for disabled persons with little or no income and few assets, or both. The “$480″ figure sounds like the SSI payment amount for a person who is living with someone else and receiving free shelter and/or food. It is possible that he will be receiving that amount until his Social Security is paid at a higher rate. If he was insured for Social Security (had enough work credits) when he became disabled, then he may yet receive SSD in the quoted higher monthly amount.

      As far as back pay goes, SSI is paid only from the month after the date of application (January 2014). SSD begins to accrue the later of the sixth full calendar month after Social Security determines disability began or twelve months before application. In your fiance’s case, if Social Security found him disabled in December 2012, then his benefits would begin to accrue in June 2013.

      Best regards,

      Kay

  17. Steve says:

    Kay,

    My question regards SSD backpay. I’ve been awarded backpay from April 2012-March 2014. $8,468. My SSD is only $355/month.
    However it’s being held for reductions. I would like to know what to expect.
    From May 2013 to August 2013 I received $480/month SSI, then September 2013 to April 2014 it was increased for rent to $721.
    My question is will they reduce my ssd payments of $355 for the 12 months I was paid SSI from my backpay. Basically cut it in half or will I have to pay back the entire SSI payments?
    Also will the lawyer fee be 25% of the backpay before, or after the reductions?
    Then finally will my future benefits be the SSD $355? Or a combination of both to maintain the $721 I’ve been getting.
    I’m sure other factors may be involved. No spouse or children and no income whatsoever.

    Cheers

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Steve,

      You will be paid Supplemental Security Income (SSI) back pay at the rate you indicated, less attorney fees. Your Social Security Disability (SSD) will be offset (reduced) by the SSI paid for overlapping months. Because your SSI was higher than your Social Security, you will not receive any SSD for May 2013 through April 2014. You should receive Social Security back pay for April 2012 through April 2013 because you did not have SSI in those months. The attorney fee should be based on the net SSD paid to you after offset. Based on your statement that your SSI is currently $721, Your ongoing income will be $355 SSD and $386 SSI for a total of $741.00. (SSI doesn’t count the first $20 of income.)

      Best regards,

      Kay

  18. susan says:

    I have beed disabled since 2009. and in 2013 I hired a company to help me with my disabilty case over a year ago but SSI sent me my paper work directly and I did all of the leg work SSI even told me when I had to go for my medical evaluaton. Of course I was denied the first time around and I had to tell the company about it because they did not recieve the letter themselves. So they started the appeal for me but again SSI was in direct contact with me. A few months went by and desides to call the company to find out that they dropped my case because I could not afford to go to the doctor nor a car to get there. Now on my own I was approved and got the minimal amount of money and onlt 3 months of retroactive pay. What should I do about this and can I fight it? Sorry about the spelling it happens when I get upset. I am so disappointed and feel hopeless I have no one to help me at all.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Susan,

      I cannot understand the time frames or situation well enough to provide reliable guidance. It sounds as if your first claim was denied because you did not attend a consultative examination. If you did not appeal that denial and had to apply again, payment would be made based on the second application.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  19. Kris says:

    Kay

    We applied for SSI for our 6 year old daughter in January 2014. Just heard back from them today and they said 120.50 for just the month of April. I am OK with it, I guess…however is it smart to appeal it? We are a one income household. And we are going to start the gluten/casein diet for her. It costs a lot. Plus all the things that we need to get her for example weighted blanket, weighted vest, and other sensory things for her. I just would like to know if I being selfish? I know it goes on income and was not expecting $1,000 but maybe something a little more than she was approved for. No back pay for my little one either.

    Thanks in advance for any advice!

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Kris,

      I am assuming that nothing is payable for February and March because your family income was too high. Otherwise, it would seem a couple months back pay would be due. With regard to ongoing benefits, you are right, family income determines payment amount not the cost of special needs. You might try contacting the March of Dimes or other non-profits to see if you can get some assistance in purchasing some of her medically related durable equipment.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  20. Marsha says:

    I just found out my child has been aproved for Ssi on June 6 in I went to the office June 13 to give my bank in income information when will I see the money

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Marsha,

      Depending on the workload of the office, our son’s SSI payment will be issued anywhere within a couple weeks to a couple months.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  21. Magdala says:

    Kay,
    I am a 22 years old who had a stroke due to complications related to my sickle sell disease. I have been approved for SSI one month ago. Today I received a letter from SSA telling me that I have an appointment set in a couple of days to review my case. They also ask me to bring proof of income for anyone else in my household.
    My mother does not work, my father works and makes around $27.000 a year my sister works part time as a nurse and makes around $33.000.
    Do you think those incomes combined will affect my financial eligibility?
    PS: There are four of us living in the house and mortgage and utilities are around $1.400.00 a month.(food not included)
    Thank you

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Magdala,

      Unless your application was filed before you turned eighteen, your parents’ and sister’s income does not affect your eligibility for Supplement Security Income (SSI). If they are supporting you by giving you free shelter and food, then your SSI will be reduced by one third for in-kind income. If, when your benefits start, you begin to pay your share of shelter and/or food costs, your benefit could be increased. If you were under age eighteen when you filed your application, then your parent’s income will be considered in determining your eligibility for months before your eighteenth birthday.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  22. Kimberly Brooks says:

    I applied for ssi on Feb 19 2014 I was approved medically June 7 and on June 27 had my interview to update info. My case worker never mentioned back pay I had to bring it up. My bf I was living with in Feb but moved out in march. She asked for proff of his income that month and proof of cash assistance had stopped in may from the state. She told me that my first check should be in the mail box by Friday. But she needed those papers to calculate my back pay. How will this affect my back pay and how long will it take. I also never got a awards letter.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Kimberly,

      I would not have expected a request for verification of your boyfriend’s income because his income is not deemed available to you. The termination of your public assistance means none of your back pay for May and June will withheld to repay the state. It can take from a week or two to a couple of months to get your back pay depending upon workloads at the time. You will get an award letter after all your benefits have been calculated.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  23. Dave says:

    i was approved for SSI got the approval letter and all and today i did the interview over the phone she asked me about income and all that cause being i was disabled 6 years ago i have had to stay at my parents cause i couldnt afford to live on my own at the time but they only went back as far as 2012 well my moms bills only come out to like 840 a month cause she pretty much owns everything but i have had no money to pay her so im thinking this counts as the inkind help thing but now does this effect me badly cause she pay so little cause i am really wanting to get out of here and on my own and the way the lady sounded was like it was a bad thing she only paid out that much a month

    • Dave says:

      sorry forgot to mention i do pay for my own food i am on that snap program

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Dave,

      The only way that “your mother’s” expenses, which I interpret to be shelter expenses, affect your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim is to determine how much in-kind help you have been getting. If there are three of you in the house, then your share is one-third. However, there is a cap on the amount of support that will be charged. If you have no other income, the least you would receive would be $480 monthly. You can use your first back pay installment to pay moving costs and to begin to pay all your own expenses. Two months later, your SSI will go up to $721 if you have no other income.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  24. wanda says:

    I live in Texas and my 6 y/o granddaughter was approved for SSI benefits. I was approved on July 3 and was told that monthly benefits is 486. She doesn’t have any other income. I have legal custody. I was told that my income does’t count since I am the grandparent. How is SSI benefits calculated. I know someone that recieves 720 month for their child. When can I expect to recieve 1st check?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Wanda,

      Your granddaughter’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI) has been reduced because you are providing her with in-kind support and maintenance in the form of free shelter and possibly free food. When her SSI starts, if you start to use her SSI to pay her share of food and shelter (rent or mortgage and utilities, excluding phone and cable), her SSI can be increased. Her share is the total cost for shelter and food divided by the number of people in the household.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  25. Janine says:

    Kay,

    Thank you for providing so much valuable help and information.

    I am a single Mom, my son is about to turn 18 very soon, so I did a little Google search to find out what to expect when he turns 18.

    What seemed to be a simple search has turned into a full days worth of research and reading comments and posts from both SSI specialists (Usually Attorney sites) and posts from people who are in a similar situation.

    My son has Down Syndrome, and requires 24 hour protective supervision because of incidences that could have caused him harm if unsupervised.

    That being said, I have read several posts of people stating that when a disabled person turns 18, unless they move out and pay rent on their own, their benefits will be decreased because of living at home.

    My son can not be expected to work, he is still a child in many areas and he needs help in doing many tasks. I still have to bathe him, prepare his food, wash his clothes, etc…He simply is not be capable of being left “anywhere” and expected to perform at a job. There are many DS people who can, but not my son.

    My question is, though, he is not capable of working, can I still use his money towards food and the mortgage, etc? If he lives here free, then it is counted against him and he would receive less money.

    Our money is budgeted, but he is very well taken care of, probably better than most kids. My son is my reason for living, I adore him. He gets new clothes and items he wants to keep him content before I get things I want…so his money is not being spent on me or only for bills.

    **Side note, after the reading I’ve done today, I am suddenly saddened as to what will happen to him if something happens to me.

    He has family, but nobody loves him or gives him the individual one on one time like I do. His older sister is very protective of him, and does love him to no end, but she is struggling to find her way in the world…His uncles, love him from a distance, never include him or take much interest in him…His grandparents love him to pieces, but they are 65, and 75 yrs old…they couldn’t care for him for as long as he would need caring for.

    This troubles me so.

    I get it that you’re not a counselor, lol, but do you have any ideas of what people do in our circumstance? I’m terrified of putting him in a home…he’s too active and adventurous, he needs to go places and do things, talk to people and be loved on and accepted. We go to church twice a week and that is one of his favorite things to do. He gets so excited to see our church friends.

    Well, thank you for your time,

    Janine

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Janine,

      I’ll respond to your financial question first. You seem to be indicating that you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for your son now. If that is the case, before he turns eighteen, you need to apply to have his benefits continued as an adult because the definition of disability is different for adults. If he does have SSI now, beginning with the month that he turns eighteen, use his funds to pay his share of shelter and food costs and his SSI will not be reduced. (His share is the cost of food and rent or mortgage and utilities excluding phone divided by the number of people in the household.

      With regard to the care of your son when you are no longer able to care for him (which will eventually happen if he outlives you), I suggest that you contact support groups and associations for families with Downs Syndrome children. There is probably a wealth of information available about resources for care and legal considerations to be sure he is cared for.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>