The Social Security Administration is very clear that working part-time can affect your benefits income. However, it also realizes that most part-time jobs do not pay enough for a person to support a household and working part-time may be possible while still collecting Supplemental Security Income benefits. Whether a part-time job precludes a claimant from continuing to receive benefits depends on the claimant's monthly earnings from the job. In some scenarios, the SSA may reduce SSI benefits but not cancel them completely.
What Are SSI Benefits?
SSI benefits are available to those who are facing an illness or injury and are unable to work due to the effects of the medical impairment. Alternative to Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, benefits, SSI benefits are reserved specifically for disabled, aged or blind Americans who are also suffering extreme economic hardship. To qualify for SSI, an applicant must make less than the monthly earning threshold set by each state and have a net worth of less than $2,000. The SSA will examine the applicant's financial situation prior to awarding SSI benefits and will continue to routinely inquire about the beneficiary's income after receiving an approval for benefits.
Working While Disabled
The most common inquiry by those seeking part-time employment surrounds how much a beneficiary can earn and still maintain eligibility for SSI benefits. As of 2012, SSI beneficiaries can earn $14,640 annually and still receive SSI. For every $2 earned above this amount, the SSA must deduct $1 from the monthly benefits amount. If a claimant will turn retirement age in 2012, the SSA will deduct $1 from the SSI benefits for every $3 earned above $38,880. This deduction ceases the month the claimant turns retirement age.
What Income Counts?
The SSA does not count all sources of income when it calculates a monthly income amount. Income that is not counted includes other government benefits, investment earnings, interest, pensions, annuities and capital gains. If an employee's gross wages are used to contribute to a pension or retirement plan, that amount is considered income, however.
Reaching Retirement Age
Once an SSI beneficiary reaches full retirement age, the SSA will begin to pay him back for benefits that were withheld due to part-time work. Starting the month the beneficiary reaches full retirement age, monthly SSI payments will begin to increase to reflect the amount taken.
Stephanie Reid has been writing professionally since 2007, with work published in the Virginia Bar Association's "Family Law Quarterly" and the "Whittier Journal of Child and Family Advocacy." She received her Juris Doctor from Regent University and her Bachelor of Arts in French and child development from Florida State University. Reid is admitted to practice law in Delaware and Maryland.