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Do COVID-19 stimulus checks affect SSI benefits?

Under Social Security Administration (SSA) policy, the $3,200 delivered to most Americans as part of the three economic-relief packages Congress approved during the coronavirus pandemic should not factor into eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

The SSA announced in August 2021 that pandemic-related economic impact payments, popularly known as stimulus checks, would not be counted as income in determining eligibility or calculating benefit amounts for SSI. It has also said the stimulus payments would not count against limits on financial assets such as savings accounts for SSI recipients.

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The issue arose from the role income and assets play in eligibility for SSI, a need-based benefit for older and disabled people with very limited financial resources. The SSA administers the program. More than 7.4 million people received SSI benefits in February 2024, nearly 2.4 million of them 65 and older.

According to a 2023 investigation by KFF Health News and Cox Media Group, some SSI recipients say they have been ordered to repay past benefits because saving the stimulus money put them over the asset limit. The SSA initiated a “top-to-bottom” review of its process for recouping overpayments and in March 2024 announced several changes designed to reduce the financial burden on beneficiaries hit with big bills over past payment errors.

If you filed a claim for SSI during the pandemic and were denied because of COVID-19 financial assistance, or you believe stimulus payments resulted in you receiving an overpayment notice, contact your local Social Security office or call the SSA's national help line at 800-772-1213. You can appeal an overpayment claim by submitting Form SSA-561-U2 to the SSA within 60 days of receiving the notice, or request a waiver of repayment at any time, using Form SSA 632-BK.

Income, assets capped

To qualify for SSI, your income must not exceed strict caps the SSA sets and adjusts annually for inflation. The rules encompass both work earnings and money from other sources, such as government benefits or help from family members. If you are above the limit, you cannot get SSI in most cases. If you're below, you may qualify for SSI, but your monthly payment may be reduced by a portion of your income.

In addition, you cannot have financial resources such as savings, investments or property valued at more than $2,000 ($3,000 for a married couple who are both SSI-eligible).


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Not all income or financial resources count, however. The SSA exempts a share of earnings from employment and some types of government aid from the income limits. And some assets, such as the house you live in and a car you rely on for transportation, don’t count toward the resource limits.

In 2021, when the last set of pandemic stimulus payments was issued, the limits on income that counted toward SSI eligibility were $794 a month for an individual recipient and $1,191 for a married couple when both spouses are eligible. These were also the maximum monthly federal SSI payments to beneficiaries. The 2024 figures are $943 for an individual and $1,415 for a couple.

Keep in mind

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