Calculating your Adjusted SSI Rate

The remainder of section 2 takes a look at a very simplified version of what your SSI payment and total income may look like once you start working.

SSA determines your SSI payment starting at the Federal Base Rate (FBR). In 2023, that maximum check is $914 per month for individuals and $1,371 for couples. All countable earned income and unearned income is then subtracted from the base rate to determine your cash payment.

Countable income which affects the Adjusted SSI cash rate is anything you receive during a calendar month which can be used to meet your needs for food or shelter. It may be in cash or in kind and may include:

  • Earned income from work
  • In-kind support such as food or shelter you get for free
  • Money given to you from friends and family
  • Unearned income from other benefits such as workers’ compensation, unemployment compensation, SSDI, or a pension.
  • If you are married to an ineligible spouse, your spouse’s earned and unearned income is considered.

For the purpose of this workbook, only the worker’s Earned Income and SSDI Unearned Income are included in the examples and practice problems.

Reporting Income

You are required to report your earnings to SSA every month. SSI now accepts reporting via smartphone, in many instances.

Step 1: Calculate your Countable Income

In your countable income calculation, the SSI program allows you to exclude the following from your countable income calculation:

  • the first $20 of any income you receive whether it is earned or unearned income
  • the first $65 of money you earn from working
  • half of the remaining earned income balance

If you receive only SSI and have earned income every month, you can deduct $85 ($20 of any income + the first $65 from earned income) from your earned income plus half of the remaining balance.

If you receive both SSI and SSDI and have earned income, $20 of your SSDI unearned income is excluded first to determine your countable unearned income, and $65 plus half of the remainder of your earnings is excluded to determine your countable earned income.

Add your Unearned Income (if any) and your Earned Income to get your Total Countable Income.

In this example, the SSI benefit is reduced to $15, but this individual has more money by working than by not working!

$1,000Gross Earnings
– $85 $20+$65
= $915
– $457.50 50% of remaining not counted
= $457.50Net Countable Earned Income
$287SSDI Unearned Income
– $20First $20 of any income is not counted
= $267Total Countable Unearned Income
$1,000Gross Wages
-$65First $65 of earned income is not counted
= $935
-$46850% Not counted
=$468Net Countable Income
(rounded in this example)
Countable Unearned Income (if any)$267
+ Countable Earned Income+468
= Total Countable Income= $735

Step 2: Calculate your New Adjusted SSI Payment

Once you have your total countable income, subtract that figure from the SSI Base rate ($794 for 2023) to get your adjusted SSI rate.

All cents must be rounded down (.01 to .49) or up (.50 to .99).  Some examples:

  • 350.15 would round down to 350
  • 498.48 would round down to 498
  • 999.51 would round up to 1,000
  • 584.75 would round up to 585
The adjusted SSI rate is calculated by subtracting the net countable income from the SSI base rate.

Let’s see how this works for James.

Example: James lives alone and receives SSI benefits of $914 each month. He takes a part-time job earning $1,000 before taxes. Let’s see how to calculate his new SSI payment.

$1,000Gross Earnings
– $85($20+$65 excluded)
= $915Net Countable Unearned Income
-$45850% of remaining not counted
=$458Net Countable Earned Income
$9142023 SSI Benefits Base Rate
-$458Net Countable Earned Income
$456Adjusted SSI Rate (rounded up in this example)

Now you try it. Donna receives only SSI cash benefits and will be starting a new job earning $920 per month. What will be her new monthly SSI Cash benefit amount? Use the tool below to calculate for Donna.

You will need to have the 2023 SSI Base Rate for this activity. As of January 2023, the SSI Base Rate is $914.


Finally, let’s calculate Donna’s new monthly income.