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What are the income reporting rules for SSI-related benefits?

New Jersey residents who are seeking or receiving Social Security disability through the Supplemental Security Income program need to understand that there are certain rules that must be followed. Since the program is based on need, income is a key factor. This applies not only to the person who is receiving SSI-related benefits but also family members. Income that the recipient gets apart from SSI must be reported to the Social Security Administration.

Family members who reside with the SSI recipient will affect the SSI amount. This applies to spouses and children who are getting SSI. Income comes in many different forms and is judged accordingly. With SSI, income will be viewed as cash, checks, or other income that can be used for shelter or food. Examples could be wages, net earnings from self-employment, value of food or shelter that is provided by someone else, benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, inheritances, rental income, gifts and contributions, among other income sources.

Items that will not count as income could be the following: medical care and other services; social services; money that was accrued by selling, exchanging or replacing things that the person owned; interest and dividends; refunds from income taxes; the proceeds of a loan; bills that were paid by someone else for items other than food or shelter, and more. Certain things that might be viewed as income will not reduce what is received under SSI. If food, shelter or assistance with home energy is provided for free or at a reduced rate, this will not be counted. However, the SSA must be informed of these even if they will not count.

All earned income must be reported whether it is through wages or self-employment. This starts the date the SSI application was filed. These must be verified through pay slips. The SSA must also be told when the work begins or ends; the work hours or changes to the rate of pay; or if there are expenses that must be paid based on the disability. For those who are self-employed, the SSA will help determine what their net earnings are. Changes must be reported, business records must be maintained, and a federal income tax return must be provided when it is available. For disabled individuals whose circumstances warrant SSI benefits, understanding the income reporting requirements is key. It could be helpful to have help from an attorney to sift through the rules and assist with any issue that comes up.

Source: ssa.gov, "What You Need to Know When You Get Supplemental Security Income (SSI), pages 10-13," accessed on Dec. 26, 2016

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