As stimulus checks were issued during the pandemic, many Americans wondered how they would affect their Social Security disability benefits, and who would be eligible for checks in the first place. Americans were eligible for coronavirus stimulus checks if they met the following criteria:
- You are a single US resident and earned less than $99,000
- If you file as the head of a household and earn less than $146,500
- If you file jointly without children and earn less than $198,000
Most people filing for disability benefits easily meet these income requirements. But taxable income can affect eligibility for some Social Security programs. A second round of stimulus checks is currently being debated in Congress. If you are concerned about losing benefits because of the stimulus checks, keep reading to learn more.
How Does Income Affect Social Security Benefits?
The Social Security Administration has two different programs designed for disabled persons who need financial assistance. They are disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental security income (SSI). Both programs are affected by income, but they are not the same.
To qualify for DIB, the Social Security Administration will not only see if you have a qualifying condition, but they will also examine:
- Your work history
- Any current earnings
The SSA wants to see your work history to make sure you have been paying Social Security taxes and earning work credits. When you become disabled and need benefits, the government wants to see proof that you contributed to the fund before they give you money out of it. If you aren’t currently working, you may still be eligible to receive DIB if you have earned enough work credits.
Regarding your financial situation, the SSA must see that you need financial compensation. It will definitely be easier to prove you deserve benefits if you’re unable to do substantial gainful activity (SGA). You have to earn below the SGA earnings limit in order to qualify. As of 2020, the SGA limit is $1,280 per month. If you haven’t paid enough Social Security taxes, or if you make over the SGA limit, then you would not qualify for DIB.
Supplemental security income (SSI) is also for disabled individuals, but it is not affected by work history. Instead, the SSA will look at your household income to see whether or not you need assistance. To determine if you are eligible for benefits, they check to see if your countable income is below the federal earning rate, which is $783 per month for a single person in 2020. If you have more countable income than the limit per month, then you would not be eligible for SSI.
Will the Coronavirus Stimulus Check Affect My Benefits?
The first round of stimulus checks are not counted as taxable income. The federal government does not consider it income, and therefore you will not be required to pay taxes (including Social Security taxes) on it. This means the stimulus money will not count towards work credits, the SGA limit, or be considered countable income. The money should not affect your SSI or DIB benefits.
With that being said, this only applies to the first round of stimulus checks. The government is currently working on passing a second round of stimulus checks and are still working out the rules and regulations. Some lawmakers want to put an earnings cap on the second check around $40,000. However, we will just have to wait to see what they decide.
Even now, many Americans are still waiting to see their first stimulus check arrive. The IRS is no longer accepting direct deposit information, so you may have to sit tight and wait for your check to arrive. The IRS has not said precisely how many checks have been mailed, but we know from the House Ways and Means Committee that around 35 million Americans who were eligible have not received their checks as of June 5.
Help from an Indiana Social Security Disability Lawyer
If you have questions about qualifying for disability insurance benefits, please call our offices at Hensley Legal Group. It can be pretty tricky navigating the application process, and you don’t have to go through it alone. Give us a call or contact us online about your claim. We will be happy to help in any way that we can.