Photo of Social Security Card on table with dollar bills
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cash benefits go down gradually as earnings from work go up. Social Security uses gross (before taxes) earnings to decide how much to subtract from monthly SSI benefits.

Here is how the amount is figured:

* The first $85 ($65 in earned income and $20 in unearned income is not counted. (Unearned Income is all income that is not earned, such as gifts, lottery winnings, dividends, insurance proceeds, child support, etc.)

*After subtracting these amounts from the person's gross earnings from work, Social Security divides the remaining earnings by two.

*This amount, called "countable income," is then subtracted from the original SSI amount. The amount left over is the amount of the person's adjusted monthly SSI payment.

Note that Social Security counts earnings for SSI by the date the pay was issued, not earned. For example, a paycheck issued on June 5 for the week ending May 28 counts for June.

Reprinted from the July 2013 newsletter of Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law