If you currently receive or plan to have NY Disability apply for Supplemental Security Income benefits on your behalf, the monthly payment will increase in 2022. The Social Security Administration makes annual cost-of-living adjustments to SSI benefits, but the current rate of inflation in the economy caused it to increase SSI payments by 5.9% beginning with the payment scheduled for December 30, 2021.

The check SSI benefits you received in 2021 for $794 as your base amount from the federal government increases to $841 for 2022. Couples who received $1,191 each month in 2021 will be receiving $1,261 in 2022. These are the federal benefits and do not reflect supplementary payments you may receive if you live in a state that supplements the federal SSI payments. Let’s take a closer look at SSI to learn how it determines the amount that you receive each month.

About your Supplemental Security Income benefits

To be eligible for SSI benefits, you must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • You must be blind according to the definition used by the SSA.
  • You must be disabled as defined by the SSA, but keep in mind that different definitions apply to children and adults.
  • You must be at least 65 years old.

If you meet the age, disability, or blindness criteria, there are financial requirements that you must satisfy to qualify for SSI benefits. You cannot have resources, such as bank accounts, real estate, or other assets, having a total value of $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for couples. Some resources, such as a primary residence, may not count toward the resource’s total, so you should speak with a disability lawyer at NY Disability to learn how what you own as assets may affect eligibility for the program.

Income limits that currently apply to SSI eligibility change in 2022. The general income limit for 2021 is $794 a month for one person and $1,191 for couples, but the increase in the monthly federal benefit rate for 2022 will increase the limits to $841 for an individual and $1,261 for couples.

A special earned income exclusion exists for students younger than 22 years of age. They may exclude up to $1,930 per month up to a yearly maximum of $7,770 in 2021. The excludable amounts for students increase in 2022 to $2,040 per month with an annual limit of $8,230.

Let an SSI lawyer review your income to determine whether you qualify for benefits because some monthly income does not count. For example, the first $65 that you receive each month in earned income from a job or self-employment does not count toward determining eligibility. One-half of the balance after deduction of the first $65 of earned income also is excluded, so do not assume that you earn too much to qualify for benefits without first checking with an SSI lawyer at NY Disability.

Substantial gainful employment changes for 2022

Federal law defines disability for an adult applying for SSI benefits as the inability to engage in substantial gainful activity as a result of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that is expected to cause a person to die or is expected to last for no less than 12 continuous months. Monthly income earned from working at a job or through self-employment is one of the criteria used to determine whether a person engages in substantial gainful activity.

If you work and earn $1,310 per month in 2021, you do not qualify for SSI benefits because you exceed the substantial gainful activity income amount. The monthly SGA amount in 2021 for someone who is blind is $2,190. The SGA limits increase in 2022 to $1,350 for someone who is disabled and to $2,260 for someone who is blind. The SGA income limitations do not apply to someone who is blind and applying for benefits through the SSI program. Although SGA for blind applicants applies to the Social Security Disability Insurance program, it does not apply to applications for SSI based blindness.

Understanding how state supplements to SSI work

If you live in a state that supplements the federal SSI benefit, you may receive more than the basic federal payment of $841 for an individual and $1,261 for a married couple. Only four states, Arizona, Mississippi, North Dakota, and West Virginia, and the Northern Mariana Islands did not supplement the federal SSI benefit in 2021. Each state that supplements the federal benefit sets its own rules about who qualifies for it and how much they receive.

In 2021, the District of Columbia and 11 states, including California and New Jersey, rely upon the SSA to administer their supplement program. If you live in one of those states, the application that you file for federal SSI benefits serves as an application with your state. However, if you live in New York or any of the other states that administer their own programs, you must file a separate application for the state supplement in addition to the SSI application that you file with the SSA.

Get experienced and knowledgeable help with your SSI benefits

Letting an SSI lawyer at NY Disability handle your application for SSI benefits gives you peace of mind knowing that it is handled properly to give you the best chance of a successful outcome. Learn more about SSI benefits in 2022 by contacting us for a free consultation.