What are the income and asset limits for SSI?

SSIIn order to be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you have to be disabled under Social Security’s definition, and you have to meet the income and asset limits.

SSI is a needs-based program that is only available to people with limited resources. Resources include money in your bank account, stocks and bonds, real estate and other things that have a cash value.

To be eligible for SSI, your “countable” resources must be less than $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple. Countable resources means resources that count toward that limit. Many things you may own do not count, including these items:

  • the home you live in
  • some household and personal items
  • one vehicle, if you or a household member uses it for transportation
  • life insurance policies with a per-person face value of $1,500 or less
  • your, or your immediate family members’ burial plots
  • property that you or your spouse uses for a job or business

There are also income limits for SSI, which are based on the federal benefit rate. The federal benefit rate is the monthly income limit for SSI and is also the maximum monthly SSI payment. For 2021, this amount is $794 for an individual and $1,191 for a couple. In order to be eligible for SSI, you cannot have monthly income over the federal benefit rate. However, only some of your income counts toward the limit. For instance, if you are earning some money from working, less than half of your monthly income will count toward the limit, so it is possible to make more than the federal benefit rate per month, but still be eligible for SSI payments. The SSI payment you will receive will be the amount left when your countable income is subtracted from the SSI federal benefit rate. Most states also provide a State Supplement in addition to the federal benefit rate. The amount varies by state.

Further, if you are married and your spouse has an income, part of your spouse’s income is taken into account when calculating your SSI payment. As a result, your SSI payment may be reduced, or you may not be eligible for SSI payments.

The above is a general description of the income and asset limits, and more detailed rules may apply in your case. Your individual financial eligibility for SSI will be determined by a Social Security claims representative, who may ask you for documentation of your income and resources. For instance, if you had certain assets at one time, you may have to show proof that you no longer own those assets.

24 Comments on What are the income and asset limits for SSI?

  1. If land is sold and used to pay off personal debts, how will that affect disability income?

    • The crucial factor would be whether the person is receiving Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. SSDI is not means-tested, so unearned income such as from the sale of land would not affect SSDI benefits. SSI beneficiaries, on the other hand, are no longer eligible for benefits if their resources rise above $2,000. (Certain assets, such as the house the person lives in and one car that they use for transportation, are exempt from that calculation.) However, SSI beneficiaries become eligible again if they spend down those resources in acceptable ways, which may include paying off debts.

  2. Cara Serrano // December 10, 2016 at 9:35 am //

    My husband and I make over the allowed monthly income for my 4 year old son to qualify for ssi benefits. We have to take out a private insurance policy on my son to cover the therapy our health insurance will not. That is going to cost us $600 a month. Is that factored in when we apply for benefits?

  3. If a person is living in a group home, but still owns their former home, this will count as an asset. My question is does putting the home up for sale allow one to qualify for SSI or must the home actually be sold?

    • An important first consideration in this circumstance is whether the person has a spouse or dependent relative living in the home, or whether sale of the home would cause undue hardship due to loss of housing for a co-owner. If any of these exceptions apply, then the home can still be excluded. See section B.5 on this Social Security webpage.

      To avoid the value of the property (or the proceeds from its sale) making the person ineligible for SSI, the person may wish to transfer the home to a family member. Normally, transferring a resource for less than fair-market value is against the rules and will make the person ineligible, but there are exceptions if the home is transferred to certain family members. See this Social Security webpage.

      If none of these exceptions apply, another option may be to sell the home and put the proceeds into a trust, which can be for the benefit of the person in the group home under certain circumstances. The rules on that are complicated and you should consult with an attorney in your area.

      To answer your specific question, I am not aware of any circumstance where simply putting the home up for sale, without it being sold, has any effect in itself.

  4. Filipina Cardona // March 13, 2017 at 2:18 pm //

    I am 76 years old, and started receiving SSS pension in 2014 for $750. On Dec 2016, I retired from Safeway Grocery store and received monthly pension from the company of $198 a month. So I receive a total of $948/month.

    This amount is not sufficient to buy food and pay bills. Am I eligible to apply for SSI to augment my pension?

    I appreciate any information that you can provide.

    Many Thanks,

    • The federal benefit rate for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for an eligible individual is $735 per month in 2017. Generally speaking, SSI will only bring you up to that amount, so if you already have income higher than that, you would not be financially eligible for SSI. An often overlooked benefit that can help many people stretch their monthly budget is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

    • Colleen Mckimmon // September 30, 2017 at 1:19 am //

      Does ssi payments change if child moves out or works but doesn’t contribute

      • Generally speaking, for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, Social Security considers the income of the whole household, not just the SSI beneficiary, in determining whether the income limits are met.

  5. Roberta Gold // July 2, 2017 at 8:13 pm //

    At what point does a deposit of monthly SSI benefits count toward the $2000 asset limit? Should we not get a chance to spend the monthly benefit to live before it is counted as an asset? What happens if we get a deposit twice in one month because the 1st falls on a weekend? Does this also get counted as an asset in the month received?

    • To maintain your eligibility for SSI, it is a good idea to make sure that your bank account balance is never over $2,000 for an individual. So if you receive $735 per month, that means making sure your account balance is $1,265 or less before your SSI benefit payment goes through. However, in the specific situation you mentioned, where a deposit comes early because of the 1st falling on a weekend, Social Security is supposed to take that into account. See this link section D.6.

  6. Jeri Jenkins // October 18, 2017 at 5:44 pm //

    I am 59 and on ssi and medicaid. Living apart from husband
    Married 40 years. He committed adultery years ago and still seeing her. I
    Want a divorce but dont want to lose ssi and medicaid. I just retained a lawyer. Can I ask for him to purchase me a car, furniture, clothes, things such as these. I read you could. One term used was a lump sum spend down. Anything such as what I mentioned would be fine with me. I have no cat. Just want to keep ssi and Medicaid.

    • Under the income and resource rules for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the house you live in and one vehicle you use for transportation do not count as resources, so those are items you can own which will not affect your benefits, regardless of their value.

  7. Earl R Slone // October 29, 2017 at 2:58 pm //

    I draw ssi and my deceased spouse social security of 236 month I am over 60 yrs of age if I get married what do I draw

    • The general rule on surviving spouse benefits is that you cannot get them if you remarry before age 60, but if you remarry after age 60, you can. As for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), since that program has income and resource limits, getting married would affect you in the sense that your new spouse’s income and resources would be counted in calculating whether you meet the income and resource limits.

  8. Cindy Shaw // October 30, 2017 at 8:37 pm //

    I have been on disability since 1998 and receive $850/month. I am also the representative payee for my 11 yr old son and his amount is $350. Do we not qualify for SSI?

    • Cindy Shaw // October 30, 2017 at 8:52 pm //

      I live in TX

    • If your son has a disability, he could qualify for SSI. Other than that, SSI generally only pays enough to bring an individual up to the federal SSI maximum, which is $735 per month for an individual in 2017, and you are already receiving more than that.

  9. I don’t like the idea of transferring your home into someone else’s name. That’s giving away your home and they can do with it what they want, even selling it out from under you and putting you out in the street to live as homeless.
    Also, having read this post in 2017, Apparently people don’t know about the new able act that became law and provided for special savings accounts without the very low cap. You can now have a much higher limit in you’re able account as long as it’s actually in that particular account. Be careful under which state you sign up, the maintenance fees can be exorbitant. Go with a state that charges either a low fee or no fee. The able account rules require you to only spend that money on qualified expenses. That way, there is no 10% tax charged to you for unqualified expenses as long as you stay within the guidelines. If you’re disabled and get any form of Social Security as a result of that disability, you’re eligible for a free able account. You link it to your regular bank account after setting up online access and all you do after that is add a bank account with the routing and account numbers. You can set up your automatic transfers at a certain amount each month if you know how to manage the money and live well below your means

    • Thank you very much for posting this information. To add to this, the website for Florida’s ABLE account program is ableunited.com.

    • Charles // May 2, 2018 at 9:03 pm //

      It’s worth noting that for any one that receives Medicaid that any substantial money left in an Able account is likely to go back to the state when they pass away. (Money first pays funeral expenses, then pays medicaid, then any remaining can go to heirs. – Medicaid will likely consume any money above funeral costs..)

      Despite this restriction it can be a useful account in some cases. If someone doesn’t have a lot of family support, or just need a certain level of independence, the ability to set a side some money without losing benefits is extremely valuable. – If someone is looking to save larger amounts of money then a irrevocable trust is the way to go. It can be left to heirs, but is more complicated, (I.e. expensive to set up. ) so Able account is way to go for smaller amounts.

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