In 2024, you might be wondering if it’s possible to earn an income while still receiving Social Security benefits without being fully retired. This inquiry takes us back over half a century when a significant policy shift permitted certain individuals to benefit from monthly Social Security payments without being officially retired, though other criteria still apply.
Typically, when Social Security is mentioned, it conjures images of monthly retirement benefits designed for those 62 and older. However, the scope of Social Security extends beyond these retirement payouts. There exists a program that offers financial support to qualifying individuals and families, regardless of their age or retirement status.
Social Security’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI): a comprehensive guide to benefits and eligibility in 2024
This program, known as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), is a federal initiative in the United States managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSI aims to provide financial aid to people who are disabled, blind, or elderly, especially those with limited means. Eligibility for this program hinges on your income, among other factors.
SSI was birthed through the Social Security Amendments of 1972 and became operational in 1974. Its primary objective was to combat poverty among society’s most vulnerable groups. These amendments sought to unify and simplify various state-run programs that previously offered support to individuals with limited income, particularly targeting the elderly, blind, and disabled.
Prior to 1974, assistance programs had a range of different eligibility requirements. The amendment brought about a nationwide standardization in requirements and benefit amounts. It also broadened coverage to include blind and disabled individuals based on specific income and personal resource criteria, making retirement status irrelevant for eligibility.
According to SSA guidelines for 2024, individuals who are 65 or older, as well as those who are blind or disabled regardless of age, must earn less than $1,971 per month from employment. Additionally, total resources, which include bank savings and vehicles, must not surpass $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple. For parents applying on behalf of a child, this resource limit may increase by $2,000.
The annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) affects the monthly payments for 2024, which are:
- $943 per month for an eligible individual, up from $914 in 2023
- $1,415 per month for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse, up from $1,372 in 2023
- $472 per month for an essential person, up from $458 in 2023
If you’re not retired but have a disability impacting your work capacity for at least a year, potentially leading to death, or significantly hindering your daily activities, you’re eligible to apply for SSI. The SSA specifies that disabled individuals must prove their work earnings are below $1,550 per month at the time of application. Citizens aged 65 or older do not require a disability to qualify for SSI.
Applying for SSI can be done online, by phone, or in person. The process entails a thorough examination of the applicant’s medical and financial records.