Social Security Benefits
Information on this page refers to the Nutrition Assistance program Information on this page refers to the Cash Assistance program
This section includes information about types of Social Security Benefits that are unearned income.
Social Security Administration (SSA) benefits are countable unearned income and include all of the following:
Black Lung Benefits, all of the following applies:
Benefits payments to coal miners with a disability caused by black lung disease due to employment in underground coal mines
Benefits payment to widows of coal miners who died of the disease.
Workers' compensation agencies process Black Lung benefits in some states.
Black lung benefits are countable unearned income.
Plan For Achieving Self Support (PASS), all of the following applies:
Pass payments are countable unearned income.
Payments fund an account to fulfill a Plan for Achieving Self Support (PASS).
Payments are made under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. (Public Law 102‑265)
Other Social Security benefits are countable unearned income including, and not limited to all of the following:
Early retirement
Disability insurance (RSDI)
Regular retirement
Survivors and dependent benefits
Widow's benefits
All of the following persons can receive SSA other benefits:
Entitled wage earners.
Surviving spouse(g) of an entitled wage earner.
Dependent children of the entitled wage earner, a child may receive SSA benefits due to a parent's or stepparent's death, retirement, or disability. Siblings may also be receiving SSA benefits.
FAA counts the gross amount of the SSA benefits rounded down to the nearest whole dollar.
FAA does not deduct the Medicare Premium from the gross amount of the SSA benefits.
When an organization withholds a fee as a representative payee for a participant receiving SSA disability insurance (RSDI), FAA deducts the monthly fee from the gross income. The amount of the fee is not countable.
FAA counts SSA disability insurance (RSDA) paid to a representative payee on behalf of a participant when one of the following occurs:
The payee lives with the budgetary unit
The payee lives outside the home and makes the income available to support the participant.
The benefits are not given directly to the person by the payee and are used to meet the participant's needs.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI), all of the following applies:
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is monthly cash payments made under the authority of Title XVI of the Social Security Act, as amended.
For NA, SSI is countable unearned income.
For CA, SSI is not countable unearned income.
SSI is a federally financed public assistance program.
SSI provides payments for eligible persons who meet one or more of the following:
Age 65 or older
Has a disability
Eligibility for SSI benefits does not require contributions to the Social Security Fund.
The participant may receive both SSI and other Social Security benefits. FAA counts only the portion of the SSA income designated for a spouse or dependent toward the CA budgetary unit. (See Social Security Benefits for more information about the different types of benefits.)
The SSA benefits do not need to be given directly to the budgetary unit by the payee but have to be used to meet the participant's needs to be considered countable. (See Example 1)
Countable income is used to determine an income budget. (See Income Budgeting to see how FAA determines the income budget.) FAA needs to know about income that is both countable and not countable to determine whether a budgetary unit’s income is exceeding their expenses. (See Income Eligibility for more information about how FAA uses countable and not countable income.)
The participant has the primary responsibility for providing verification. (See Participant Responsibilities – Providing Verification for additional policy.)
For NA, all of the following income is required to be verified before eligibility is determined:
Reported on a new application, during the interview of a new application, or changes reported before the eligibility determination of a new application.
Changes after an eligibility determination of a new application (e.g., a renewal application, mid approval contact, etc.) and any of the following apply:
The source of the income has changed.
The income is questionable(g) or unclear(g).
The reported income amount has changed by $51 or more.
The previous verification in the case file is more than 59 calendar days old.
For CA, all income is required to be verified before determining eligibility.
Examples of verification that can be used for Social Security Administration (SSA) benefits include, and are not limited to, any of the following:
Assistance payments records
Benefit award letters from SSA
Bank records
Agency or payer providing the income
Court records or court orders
Current check reflecting gross income (Do not copy federal government checks)
Participant Statement verification when one of the following occur:
Obtaining documented or collateral contact verification may cause harm or undue hardship(g) for the participant.
When all of the following occur:
Other attempts to obtain the verification have failed. This includes documented and collateral contact verification.
The participant has requested assistance from FAA.
The worker has evaluated the request for assistance and cannot obtain the verification from another acceptable source.
The participant statement is not questionable(g).
1) Jane and her 12-year-old son, Don, live together. Don receives $600 per month in SSA benefits because his father is deceased. Mary, Don's grandmother, is the Representative Payee for Don's SSA benefits and does not live with Jane and Don. Mary does not give cash to Jane or Don. She uses the $500 of Don's SSA benefits to provide for Don's needs (clothes, books, personal care items, etc.).
The $500 of Don's SSA benefits provide for Don's needs and are countable to Jane's budgetary unit for NA and CA.
The $100 of Don's SSA benefits not used to provide for Don's needs and retained by Mary is not countable to Jane's budgetary unit for NA and CA.
Legal Authorities
last revised 01/08/2024