US Government Information/SSI income calculations


QUESTION: Hello Darlene. After almost two years of waiting my 26 year-old son had a hearing and the judge ruled in my son's favor acknowledging his disability due to mental problems. Now we need to go to something like the income review appointment. My son lives with us and he never worked. He can start paying some of the house and food expenses after he starts receiving the SSI payments. If he lives with us, how can it affect the amount he is eligible for?
If we manage to put some money aside, would we be able to buy him a car or a place to live without affecting the amount of his SSI payments?
My son's condition is chronic and it started when he turned 13, but we applied for SSI two years ago in 2014. It looks like the SSI payments would start from 2014, does it mean the judge didn't find that my son had a disability as a child?
Would we have to provide records from the doctors on the ongoing basis in order to keep him on SSI? I am asking because my son doesn't respond to currently available medications and treatments, does he need to keep going to the doctors? Is there some type of a regular review process where we would need to keep proving the disability  every several months?          

Thank you very much!


The SSI program does not pay benefits earlier than the first full month after the month the original application was filed.  Typically, it is not important to find a person disabled before the month the SSI application was filed. It would be important when a parent begins receiving disability or retirement benefits or dies. This is because Social Security must determine that he was disabled before age 22 to receive a childhood disability benefit from the parent's record.

When a person begins receiving disability, Social Security decides if the condition is expected to improve. If yes, they do a medical review in one year.  If the condition will possibly improve, they do a medical review in 3 to 5 years. If the condition is not expected to improve, the review is no earlier than 7 years.  A medical review is different than the original medical decision, because the burden of proof shifts to Social Security who must prove that the condition has improved to the point of no longer being disabled.

The income review is done so Social Security can determine the payment amount that is based on his living arrangement.  This must be done before payment initially begins and every year thereafter.    This is how they catch changes that may not have been reported during the year that affect the payment amount.

When a disabled child lives in the parent's household, and does not pay their share of household expenses based on the number of people iliving in the household, the SSI benefit is reduced by one-third.

The resource limited is $2,000. If you save $1 more, he is no longer eligible for SSI benefits until the resources drop below $2,000. This is determined by the amount on the first day of the month. A car used as transportation for medical care is typically excluded as a countable resource.

I hope this information helps.


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QUESTION: Thank you very much, it's very helpful! Would we know right away what Social Security decides as far as the expectation (will improve/will not improve) of the condition? Or we can only know after a year if the medical review is initiated?
My son is expected to contribute $300 for housing and $250 for food toward the household expenses, but he didn't have any income to actually make payments. So we pretty much loaned the money to him until he starts receiving SSI payments. Would this qualify as him paying his share? Would type of proof is expected to show that a person without income is sharing some expenses?

Thank you!

ANSWER: If you indicated this was the arrangement on the original application, then they will consider it a loan and that could result in a higher benefit.  Otherwise, you can set something up going forward.

You can ask your Social Security representative who does the pre-effectuation review what medical diary was decided by the Administrative Law Judge.  The representative must diary for the medical review so they have this information.

Thank you again for your generous donation.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you Darlene! Just one more question... we filed for SSI two years ago. Does it mean my son will receive one check with the amount for the last two years? And after he receives this check, can SSA count it as his income and stop paying monthly payments until the money from that first check are gone?

Thanks a lot!

The unspent portion of retroactive SSI and RSDI benefits received on or after 3/2/04 is excluded from resources for the 9 calendar months following the month in which the individual receives the benefits.

They pay the back pay in three installments.  

The following is from Social Security policy:

Amount and timing of installment payments

Installment payments must be paid in no more than 3 payments. Each payment is made at 6-month intervals. Each of the first and second installment payments cannot exceed 3 times the FBR (plus any federally administered State supplement), unless the exception for increasing the installment amount applies (see SI 02101.020B.4. in this section). The first and second installment payment should each be for this maximum amount if the balance due equals or exceeds this amount. The third (and final) installment payment includes the remainder of the past-due benefits.
4. Exception to limitation on the amount of the first and/or second payment

The standard limitation on the amount of each of the first and/or second installment payment may be increased by the total amount of the following debts and expenses.
a. Outstanding debts

If the individual has outstanding debts relating to:
food, clothing, shelter; or
medically necessary services, supplies or equipment, or medicine.
b. Current or anticipated expenses

If the individual has current and/or expected expenses in the near future relating to:
medically necessary services, supplies or equipment, or medicine; or
the purchase of a home.
The amount of the installment payment may be increased by the amount of the expenses. The individual may request, and can be paid, an increase to the installment payment at any time.
EXAMPLE: A recipient is due $10,000.00 in past-due benefits. The first installment goes out 01/07, releasing $1869.00 to the recipient. His letter tells him he can receive more of the back payments right away if he has certain debts/expenses.
He goes into the field office in 02/07 with his bills & requests an additional $2000.00. If his debts/expenses meet the criteria for an increase, the $2000.00 can be paid immediately via A-OTP. The additional money is considered an increase of the first installment. This leaves a balance of $6131.00.
In 07/07 he is due the second installment, so $1869.00 is released, leaving a balance of $4262.00 to be paid as the third/final installment.
(Attorney/non-attorney representatives, who do not receive direct fee payment by SSA, do not qualify as an exception for an increased first and/or second installment payment.)
NOTE: The increase only applies with respect to debts or expenses that are not reimbursable by any public assistance program, Title XVIII, a State plan approved under Title XIX, or by any private party liable for payment by an insurance policy, prepaid plan, or other arrangement.
NOTE: The medical necessity of items or services which are not usually considered to be medically necessary (e.g., cell phones, computers, automobiles, etc.) will be determined by the beneficiary’s medical service provider (physician, therapist, etc.). The beneficiary will submit documentation from the medical service provider.  

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Darlene Oldendick


Social Security retirement planning and all questions about Social Security eligibility and entitlement.


Worked for the Social Security Administration for 33 years


33 years employment with the Social Security Administration

Awards and Honors
Many outstanding performance awards while employed at the Social Security Administration

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