If you're a senior who is struggling to survive on Social Security, you may actually be entitled to more benefits -- up to $841 per month worth.
Eligibility for this extra income depends on many factors including your age, household income, and financial resources. It's important you understand that the additional money may be available and what you might need to do to get it in order to be certain you're claiming every dollar of Social Security benefits you're entitled to.
SSI benefits can supplement retirement benefits in some circumstances
Retirees without much money may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income. SSI is a separate benefits program for low-income elderly and disabled people. The Social Security Administration has made it clear that you can get both SSI benefits and retirement benefits.
SSI benefits are available to people who are 65 or older or to people who are disabled or blind. You must also:
- Have a limited income: This includes earned income such as a paycheck; unearned income such as Social Security benefits; in-kind income, which is food or shelter that you get for less than fair-market value; and deemed income, which is part of your spouse's income. However, some earnings, such as the first $20 of most monthly income, don't count.
- Have limited financial resources: You must have under $2,000 in resources as an individual or $3,000 as a couple. This includes most items you own, with the exception of the home you live in, certain personal property, and one vehicle used for transportation.
If you are eligible for Supplemental Security Income, you could potentially receive up to the maximum benefit of $841 per month in 2022. However, other income you have coming in can reduce the amount you get each month. In 2021, for example, the average retiree who was eligible for SSI received $585 per month on top of their Social Security retirement checks.
The Social Security Administration provides a formula for determining how much your SSI benefit will shrink based on the earned and unearned income coming into your household. Even if you don't get the full $841 in monthly income, any extra money coming from Supplemental Security Income can help if you have few assets and the retirement benefits you're getting can't cover the necessities.
Don't leave Social Security benefits on the table
Many people don't understand the rules for SSI, or don't realize they can get these benefits while also getting retirement income. And, unfortunately, this is just one of many situations where retirees may leave money unclaimed because they don't really understand how Social Security works.
Social Security offers many different types of benefits, including SSI, Supplemental Security Disability, survivor benefits, and spousal benefits. It's important to research all of your options for claiming this income, especially if you are struggling to make ends meet and don't have many resources or if you had a higher-earning spouse.
By carefully researching all that Social Security can do for you, you can enjoy more financial security later in life and get the full amount of monthly income that you earned by paying taxes into the Social Security program throughout the course of your working life. Of course, living on Social Security alone is always a challenge, so it's always a good idea to aim to build a nest egg to supplement your benefits if you can.