SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home

Part A—Determination of Benefits

ELIGIBILITY FOR AND AMOUNT OF BENEFITS[3]

Definition of Eligible Individual

Sec1611[42 U.S.C. 1382] (a)(1) Each aged, blind, or disabled individual who does not have an eligible spouse and—

(A) whose income, other than income excluded pursuant to section 1612(b), is at a rate of not more than $1,752 (or, if greater, the amount determined under section 1617) for the calendar year 1974 or any calendar year thereafter, and

(B) whose resources, other than resources excluded pursuant to section 1613(a), are not more than (i) in case such individual has a spouse with whom he is living, the applicable amount determined under paragraph (3)(A), or (ii) in case such individual has no spouse with whom he is living, the applicable amount determined under paragraph (3)(B),

shall be an eligible individual for purposes of this title.

(2) Each aged, blind, or disabled individual who has an eligible spouse and—

(A) whose income (together with the income of such spouse), other than income excluded pursuant to section 1612(b), is at a rate of not more than $2,628 (or, if greater, the amount determined under section 1617) for the calendar year 1974, or any calendar year thereafter, and

(B) whose resources (together with the resources of such spouse), other than resources excluded pursuant to section 1613(a), are not more than the applicable amount determined under paragraph (3)(A),

shall be an eligible individual for purposes of this title.

(3)(A) The dollar amount referred to in clause (i) of paragraph (1)(B), and in paragraph (2)(B), shall be $2,250 prior to January 1, 1985, and shall be increased to $2,400 on January 1, 1985, to $2,550 on January 1, 1986, to $2,700 on January 1, 1987, to $2,850 on January 1, 1988, and to $3,000 on January 1, 1989.

(B) The dollar amount referred to in clause (ii) of paragraph (1)(B), shall be $1,500 prior to January 1, 1985, and shall be increased to $1,600 on January 1, 1985, to $1,700 on January 1, 1986, to $1,800 on January 1, 1987, to $1,900 on January 1, 1988, and to $2,000 on January 1, 1989.

Amounts of Benefits[4]

(b)(1) The benefit under this title for an individual who does not have an eligible spouse shall be payable at the rate of $1,752 (or, if greater, the amount determined under section 1617) for the calendar year 1974 and any calendar year thereafter, reduced by the amount of income, not excluded pursuant to section 1612(b), of such individual.

(2) The benefit under this title for an individual who has an eligible spouse shall be payable at the rate of $2,628 (or, if greater, the amount determined under section 1617) for the calendar year 1974 and any calendar year thereafter, reduced by the amount of income, not excluded pursuant to section 1612(b), of such individual and spouse.

Period for Determination of Benefits

(c)(1) An individual’s eligibility for a benefit under this title for a month shall be determined on the basis of the individual’s (and eligible spouse’s, if any) income, resources, and other relevant characteristics in such month, and, except as provided in paragraphs (2), (3), (4), (5), and (6), the amount of such benefit shall be determined for such month on the basis of income and other characteristics in the first or, if the Commissioner of Social Security so determines, second month preceding such month. Eligibility for and the amount of such benefits shall be redetermined at such time or times as may be provided by the Commissioner of Social Security.

(2) The amount of such benefit for the month in which an application for benefits becomes effective (or, if the Commissioner of Social Security so determines, for such month and the following month) and for any month immediately following a month of ineligibility for such benefits (or, if the Commissioner of Social Security so determines, for such month and the following month) shall—

(A) be determined on the basis of the income of the individual and the eligible spouse, if any, of such individual and other relevant circumstances in such month; and

(B) in the case of the first month following a period of ineligibility in which eligibility is restored after the first day of such month, bear the same ratio to the amount of the benefit which would have been payable to such individual if eligibility had been restored on the first day of such month as the number of days in such month including and following the date of restoration of eligibility bears to the total number of days in such month.

(3) For purposes of this subsection, an increase in the benefit amount payable under title II (over the amount payable in the preceding month, or, at the election of the Commissioner of Social Security, the second preceding month) to an individual receiving benefits under this title shall be included in the income used to determine the benefit under this title of such individual for any month which is—

(A) the first month in which the benefit amount payable to such individual under this title is increased pursuant to section 1617, or

(B) at the election of the Commissioner of Social Security, the month immediately following such month.

(4)(A) Notwithstanding paragraph (3), if the Commissioner of Social Security determines that reliable information is currently available with respect to the income and other circumstances of an individual for a month (including information with respect to a class of which such individual is a member and information with respect to scheduled cost-of-living adjustments under other benefit programs), the benefit amount of such individual under this title for such month may be determined on the basis of such information.

(B) The Commissioner of Social Security shall prescribe by regulation the circumstances in which information with respect to an event may be taken into account pursuant to subparagraph (A) in determining benefit amounts under this title.

(5) Notwithstanding paragraphs (1) and (2), any income which is paid to or on behalf of an individual in any month pursuant to (A) a State program funded under part A of title IV, (B) section 472 of this Act (relating to foster care assistance), (C) section 412(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (relating to assistance for refugees), (D) section 501(a) of Public Law 96-422 (relating to assistance for Cuban and Haitian entrants), or (E) the Act of November 2, 1921 (42 Stat. 208)[5], as amended (relating to assistance furnished by the Bureau of Indian Affairs), shall be taken into account in determining the amount of the benefit under this title of such individual (and his eligible spouse, if any) only for that month, and shall not be taken into account in determining the amount of the benefit for any other month.

(6) The dollar amount in effect under subsection (b) as a result of any increase in benefits under this title by reason of section 1617 shall be used to determine the value of any in-kind support and maintenance required to be taken into account in determining the benefit payable under this title to an individual (and the eligible spouse, if any, of the individual) for the 1st 2 months for which the increase in benefits applies.

(7) For purposes of this subsection, an application of an individual for benefits under this title shall be effective on the later of—

(A) the first day of the month following the date such application is filed, or

(B) the first day of the month following the date such individual becomes eligible for such benefits with respect to such application.

(8) The Commissioner of Social Security may waive the limitations specified in subparagraphs (A) and (B) of subsection (e)(1) on an individual’s eligibility and benefit amount for a month (to the extent either such limitation is applicable by reason of such individual’s presence throughout such month in a hospital, extended care facility, nursing home, or intermediate care facility) if such waiver would promote the individual’s removal from such institution or facility. Upon waiver of such limitations, the Commissioner of Social Security shall apply, to the month preceding the month of removal, or, if the Commissioner of Social Security so determines, the two months preceding the month of removal, the benefit rate that is appropriate to such individual’s living arrangement subsequent to his removal from such institution or facility.

(9)(A) Notwithstanding paragraphs (1) and (2), any nonrecurring income which is paid to an individual in the first month of any period of eligibility shall be taken into account in determining the amount of the benefit under this title of such indiviudal (and his eligible spouse, if any) only for that month, shall not be taken into account in determining the amount of the benefit for any other month.

(B) For purposes of subparagraph (A), payments to an individual in varying amounts from the same or similar source for the same or similar purpose shall not be considered to be nonrecurring income.

(10) For purposes of this subsection, renumeration for service performed as a member of a uniformed service may be treated as received in the month in which it was earned, if the Commissioner of Social Security determines that such treatment would promote the economical and efficient adminstration of the program authorized by this title.

Special Limits on Gross Income

(d) The Commissioner of Social Security may prescribe the circumstances under which, consistently with the purposes of this title, the gross income from a trade or business (including farming) will be considered sufficiently large to make an individual ineligible for benefits under this title. For purposes of this subsection, the term “gross income” has the same meaning as when used in chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954[6].

Limitation on Eligibility of Certain Individuals

(e)(1)(A) Except as provided in subparagraphs (B), (C), (D), (E), and (G), no person shall be an eligible individual or eligible spouse for purposes of this title with respect to any month if throughout such month he is an inmate of a public institution.

(B) In any case where an eligible individual or his eligible spouse (if any) is, throughout any month (subject to subparagraph (G)), in a medical treatment facility receiving payments (with respect to such individual or spouse) under a State plan approved under title XIX, or an eligible individual is a child described in section 1614(f)(2)(B), or, in the case of an eligible individual who is a child under the age of 18, receiving payments (with respect to such individual) under any health insurance policy issued by a private provider of such insurance the benefit under this title for such individual for such month shall be payable (subject to subparagraph (E))—

(i) at a rate not in excess of $360 per year (reduced by the amount of any income not excluded pursuant to section 1612(b)) in the case of an individual who does not have an eligible spouse;

(ii) in the case of an individual who has an eligible spouse, if only one of them is in such a facility throughout such month, at a rate not in excess of the sum of—

(I) the rate of $360 per year (reduced by the amount of any income, not excluded pursuant to section 1612(b), of the one who is in such facility), and

(II) the applicable rate specified in subsection (b)(1) (reduced by the amount of any income, not excluded pursuant to section 1612(b), of the other); and

(iii) at a rate not in excess of $720 per year (reduced by the amount of any income not excluded pursuant to section 1612(b)) in the case of an individual who has an eligible spouse, if both of them are in such a facility throughout such month.

For purposes of this subsection, a medical treatment facility that provides services described in section 1917(c)(1)(C) shall be considered to be receiving payments with respect to an individual under a State plan approved under title XIX during any period of ineligibility of such individual provided for under the State plan pursuant to section 1917(c).

(C) As used in subparagraph (A), the term “public institution” does not include a publicly operated community residence which serves no more than 16 residents.[7]

(D) A person may be an eligible individual or eligible spouse for purposes of this title with respect to any month throughout which he is a resident of a public emergency shelter for the homeless (as defined in regulations which shall be prescribed by the Commissioner of Social Security); except that no person shall be an eligible individual or eligible spouse by reason of this subparagraph more than 6 months in any 9-month period.

(E) Notwithstanding subparagraphs (A) and (B), any individual who—

(i)(I) is an inmate of a public institution, the primary purpose of which is the provision of medical or psychiatric care, through-out any month as described in subparagraph (A), or

(II) is in a medical treatment facility throughout any month as described in subparagraph (B),

(ii) was eligible under section 1619(a) or (b) for the month preceding such month, and

(iii) under an agreement of the public institution or the medical treatment facility is permitted to retain any benefit payable by reason of this subparagraph,

may be an eligible individual or eligible spouse for purposes of this title (and entitled to a benefit determined on the basis of the rate applicable under subsection (b)) for the month referred to in subclause (I) or (II) of clause (i) and, if such subclause still applies, for the succeeding month.

(F) An individual who is an eligible individual or an eligible spouse for a month by reason of subparagraph (E) shall not be treated as being eligible under section 1619(a) or (b) for such month for purposes of clause (ii) of such subparagraph.

(G) A person may be an eligible individual or eligible spouse for purposes of this title, and subparagraphs (A) and (B) shall not apply, with respect to any particular month throughout which he or she is an inmate of a public institution the primary purpose of which is the provision of medical or psychiatric care, or is in a medical treatment facility receiving payments (with respect to such individual or spouse) under a State plan approved under title XIX or, in the case of an individual who is a child under the age of 18, under any health insurance policy issued by a private provider of such insurance, if it is determined in accordance with subparagraph (H) or (J) that—

(i) such person’s stay in that institution or facility (or in that institution or facility and one or more other such institutions or facilities during a continuous period of institutionalization) is likely (as certified by a physician) not to exceed 3 months, and the particular month involved is one of the first 3 months throughout which such person is in such an institution or facility during a continuous period of institutionalization; and

(ii) such person needs to continue to maintain and provide for the expenses of the home or living arrangement to which he or she may return upon leaving the institution or facility.

The benefit of any person under this title (including State supplementation if any) for each month to which this subparagraph applies shall be payable, without interruption of benefit payments and on the date the benefit involved is regularly due, at the rate that was applicable to such person in the month prior to the first month throughout which he or she is in the institution or facility.

(H) The Commissioner of Social Security shall establish procedures for the determinations required by clauses (i) and (ii) of subparagraph (G), and may enter into agreements for making such determinations (or for providing information or assistance in connection with the making of such determinations) with appropriate State and local public and private agencies and organizations. Such procedures and agreements shall include the provision of appropriate assistance to individuals who, because of their physical or mental condition, are limited in their ability to furnish the information needed in connection with the making of such determinations.

(I)(i) The Commissioner shall enter into an agreement, with any interested State or local institution comprising a jail, prison, penal institution, or correctional facility, or with any other interested State or local institution a purpose of which is to confine individuals as described in section 202(x)(1)(A)(ii)[8], under which—

(I) the institution shall provide to the Commissioner, on a monthly basis and in a manner specified by the Commissioner, the first middle and last[9] names, social security account numbers or taxpayer identification numbers, prison assigned inmate numbers, last known addresses,[10] dates of birth, confinement commencement dates, dates of release or anticipated dates of release, dates of work release,[11] and, to the extent available and, to the extent available to the institution, such other identifying information concerning the inmates of the institution as the Commissioner may require for the purpose of carrying out this paragraph and clause (iv) of this subparagraph[12]and the other provisions of this title; and

(II) the Commissioner shall pay to any such institution, with respect to each individual who receives in the month preceding the first month throughout which such individual is an inmate of the jail, prison, penal institution, or correctional facility that furnishes information respecting such individual pursuant to subclause (I), or is confined in the institution (that so furnishes such information) as described in section 202(x)(1)(A)(ii), a benefit under this title for such preceding month, and who is determined by the Commissioner to be ineligible for benefits under this title by reason of confinement based on the information provided by such institution, $400 (subject to reduction under clause (ii)) if the institution furnishes the information described in subclause (I) to the Commissioner within 30 days after the date such individual becomes an inmate of such institution, or $200 (subject to reduction under clause (ii)) if the institution furnishes such information after 30 days after such date but within 90 days after such date.

(ii) The dollar amounts specified in clause (i)(II) shall be reduced by 50 percent if the Commissioner is also required to make a payment to the institution with respect to the same individual under an agreement entered into under section 202(x)(3)(B).

(iii) The Commissioner shall maintain, and shall provide on a reimbursable basis, information obtained pursuant to agreements entered into under clause (i) to any Federal or federally-assisted cash, food, or medical assistance program for eligibility and other administrative purposes under such program, for statistical and research activities conducted by Federal and State agencies, and to the Secretary of the Treasury for the purposes of tax administration, debt collection, and identifying, preventing, and recovering improper payments under federally funded programs[13].

[14](I) The Commissioner may disclose information received pursuant to this paragraph to any officer, employee, agent, or contractor of the Department of the Treasury whose official duties require such information to assist in the identification, prevention, and recovery of improper payments or in the collection of delinquent debts owed to the United States, including payments certified by the head of an executive, judicial, or legislative paying agency, and payments made to individuals whose eligibility, or continuing eligibility, to participate in a Federal program (including those administered by a State or political subdivision thereof) is being reviewed.

(II) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 552a of title 5, United States Code, or any other provision of Federal or State law, the Secretary of the Treasury may compare information disclosed under subclause (I) with any other personally identifiable information derived from a Federal system of records or similar records maintained by a Federal contractor, a Federal grantee, or an entity administering a Federal program or activity and may redisclose such comparison of information to any paying or administering agency and to the head of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the head of any State agency charged with the administration of prisons with respect to inmates whom the Secretary of the Treasury has determined may have been issued, or facilitated in the issuance of, an improper payment.

(III) The comparison of information disclosed under subclause (I) shall not be considered a matching program for purposes of section 552a of title 5, United States Code.

(iv) Payments to institutions required by clause (i)(II) shall be made from funds otherwise available for the payment of benefits under this title and shall be treated as direct spending for purposes of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.

(J) For the purpose of carrying out this paragraph, the Commissioner of Social Security shall conduct periodic computer matches with data maintained by the Secretary of Health and Human Services under title XVIII or XIX. The Secretary shall furnish to the Commissioner, in such form and manner and under such terms as the Commissioner and the Secretary shall mutually agree, such information as the Commissioner may request for this purpose. Information obtained pursuant to such a match may be substituted for the physician’s certification otherwise required under subparagraph (G)(i).

(2) No person shall be an eligible individual or eligible spouse for purposes of this title if, after notice to such person by the Commissioner of Social Security that it is likely that such person is eligible for any payments of the type enumerated in section 1612(a)(2)(B), such person fails within 30 days to take all appropriate steps to apply for and (if eligible) obtain any such payments.

(3) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the criteria being used by the Commissioner of Social Security in determining when a husband and wife are to be considered two eligible individuals for purposes of this title and when they are to be considered an eligible individual with an eligible spouse, the State agency administering or supervising the administration of a State plan under any other program under this Act may (in the administration of such plan) treat a husband and wife living in the same medical treatment facility described in paragraph (1)(B) as though they were an eligible individual with his or her eligible spouse for purposes of this title (rather than two eligible individuals), after they have continuously lived in the same such facility for 6 months, if treating such husband and wife as two eligible individuals would prevent either of them from receiving benefits or assistance under such plan or reduce the amount thereof.

(4)(A) No person shall be considered an eligible individual or eligible spouse for purposes of this title with respect to any month if during such month the person is—

(i) fleeing to avoid prosecution, or custody or confinement after conviction, under the laws of the place from which the person flees, for a crime, or an attempt to commit a crime, which is a felony under the laws of the place from which the person flees, or, in jurisdictions that do not define crimes as felonies, is punishable by death or imprisonment for a term exceeding 1 year regardless of the actual sentence imposed; or

(ii) violating a condition of probation or parole imposed under Federal or State law.

(B) Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), the Commissioner shall, for good cause shown, treat the person referred to in subparagraph (A) as an eligible individual or eligible spouse if the Commissioner determines that—

(i) a court of competent jurisdiction has found the person not guilty of the criminal offense, dismissed the charges relating to the criminal offense, vacated the warrant for arrest of the person for the criminal offense, or issued any similar exonerating order (or taken similar exonerating action), or

(ii) the person was erroneously implicated in connection with the criminal offense by reason of identity fraud.

(C) Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), the Commissioner may, for good cause shown based on mitigating circumstances, treat the person referred to in subparagraph (A) as an eligible individual or eligible spouse if the Commissioner determines that—

(i) the offense described in subparagraph (A)(i) or underlying the imposition of the probation or parole described in subparagraph (A)(ii) was nonviolent and not drug-related, and

(ii) in the case of a person who is not considered an eligible individual or eligible spouse pursuant to subparagraph (A)(ii), the action that resulted in the violation of a condition of probation or parole was nonviolent and not drug-related.

(5) Notwithstanding any other provision of law (other than section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986[15] and section 1106(c) of this Act), the Commissioner shall furnish any Federal, State, or local law enforcement officer, upon the written request of the officer, with the current address, Social Security number, and photograph (if applicable) of any recipient of benefits under this title, if the officer furnishes the Commissioner with the name of the recipient, and other identifying information as reasonably required by the Commissioner to establish the unique identity of the recipient, and notifies the Commissioner that—

(A) the recipient is described in clause (i) or (ii) of paragraph (4)(A);

(B) the location or apprehension of the recipient is within the officer’s official duties.

Suspension of Payments to Individuals Who Are Outside the United States

(f)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, no individual (other than a child described in section 1614(a)(1)(B)(ii)) shall be considered an eligible individual for purposes of this title for any month during all of which such individual is outside the United States (and no person shall be considered the eligible spouse of an individual for purposes of this title with respect to any month during all of which such person is outside the United States). For purposes of the preceding sentence, after an individual has been outside the United States for any period of 30 consecutive days, he shall be treated as remaining outside the United States until he has been in the United States for a period of 30 consecutive days.

(2) For a period of not more than 1 year, the first sentence of paragraph (1) shall not apply to any individual who—

(A) was eligible to receive a benefit under this title for the month immediately preceding the first month during all of which the individual was outside the United States; and

(B) demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Commissioner of Social Security that the absence of the individual from the United States will be—

(i) for not more than 1 year; and

(ii) for the purposes of conducting studies as part of an educational program that is—

(I) designed to substantially enhance the ability of the individual to engage in gainful employment;

(II) sponsored by a school, college, or university in the United States; and

(III) not available to the individual in the United States.

Certain Individuals Deemed To Meet Resources Test

(g) In the case of any individual or any individual and his spouse (as the case may be) who—

(1) received aid or assistance for December 1973 under a plan of a State approved under title I, X, XIV, or XVI,

(2) has, since December 31, 1973, continuously resided in the State under the plan of which he or they received such aid or assistance for December 1973, and

(3) has, since December 31, 1973, continuously been (except for periods not in excess of six consecutive months) an eligible individual or eligible spouse with respect to whom supplemental security income benefits are payable,

the resources of such individual or such individual and his spouse (as the case may be) shall be deemed not to exceed the amount specified in sections 1611(a)(1)(B) and 1611(a)(2)(B) during any period that the resources of such individual or such individual and his spouse (as the case may be) does not exceed the maximum amount of resources specified in the State plan, as in effect for October 1972, under which he or they received such aid or assistance for December 1973.

Certain Individuals Deemed To Meet Income Test

(h) In determining eligibility for, and the amount of, benefits payable under this section in the case of any individual or any individual and his spouse (as the case may be) who—

(1) received aid or assistance for December 1973 under a plan of a State approved under title X or XVI,

(2) is blind under the definition of that term in the plan, as in effect for October 1972, under which he or they received such aid or assistance for December 1973,

(3) has, since December 31, 1973, continuously resided in the State under the plan of which he or they received such aid or assistance for December 1973, and

(4) has, since December 31, 1973, continuously been (except for periods not in excess of six consecutive months) an eligible individual or an eligible spouse with respect to whom supplemental security income benefits are payable,

there shall be disregarded an amount equal to the greater of (A) the maximum amount of any earned or unearned income which could have been disregarded under the State plan, as in effect for October 1972, under which he or they received such aid or assistance for December 1973, and (B) the amount which would be required to be disregarded under section 1612 without application of this subsection.

Application and Review Requirements for Certain Individuals

(i) For application and review requirements affecting the eligibility of certain individuals, see section 1631(j).


[3]  See Vol. II, P.L. 93-66, §211, with respect to supplemental security income benefits for essential persons.

[4]  See Vol. II, Appendices A and B, for Cost-of-Living Increase information.

[5]  See Vol. II, P.L. 82-414, §412(e), P.L. 96-422, §501(a), and P.L. 67-85, the Act of November 2, 1921.

[6]  See Vol. II, P.L. 83-591, §62.

P.L. 99-514, §2, provides, except when inappropriate, any reference to the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 shall include a reference to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

[7]  See Vol. II, P.L. 96-598, §4, with respect to the Boundary County Restorium, Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho.

[8]  The reference to §202(x)(1)(A)(ii) shall be deemed a reference to such §202(x)(1)(A)(ii) as amended by P.L. 106-170, §402(b)(1)(C).

[9]  P.L. 113-67, §204(a)(2)(A), inserted “first. middle, and last”, effective December 26, 2013.

[10]  P.L. 113-67, §204(a)(2)(B), struck out the comma and inserted “or taxpayer identification numbers, prison assigned inmate numbers, last known addresses,”, effective December 26, 2013.

[11]  P.L. 113-67, §204(a)(2)(C), inserted “dates of release or anticipated dates of release, dates of work release,’’, effective December 26, 2013.

[12]  P.L. 113-67, §204(a)(2)(D), inserted “and clause (iv) of this subparagraph”, effective December 26, 2013.

[13]  P.L. 113-67, §204(b)(2)(A), inserted “, for statistical and research activities conducted by Federal and State agencies, and to the Secretary of the Treasury for the purposes of tax administration, debt collection, and identifying, preventing, and recovering improper payments under federally funded programs”, effective December 26, 2013.

[14]  P.L. 113-67, §204(b)(2)(B), added this new clause (v), effective December 26, 2013.

[15]  See Vol. II, P.L. 83-591, §6103.