Going to Work Toolbox

Reporting to Social Security

If you’re on public benefits, one of the things you have to do first when you get a job or change jobs is notify any government agency that supplies you with assistance that you are working. That means that if you get benefits, like Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) coverage, or Nutrition Assistance (NA), you have to tell the agencies that supply these benefits about your new job.

The agency supplying you with assistance might be Social Security, your DES/Family Assistance Administration office, or your local housing authority. Here, we’ll explain exactly what information you need to supply and how to report it.

Work Incentives

Work incentives programs mean that some health care and disability benefits may continue after your job starts. So, you may be able to get a job and still get your cash and health benefits. In other situations, you may have new alternatives that become available.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • If you get SSI and get a job, you may still be eligible for SSI benefits. The amount of your monthly SSI benefits will depend on how much you make at your job.
  • If you get AHCCCS coverage and get a job, you may qualify for a different type of AHCCCS coverage called AHCCCS Freedom to Work.

These types of incentives mean that you don’t have to worry that if you report your income to your benefits agencies, you’ll suddenly find yourself in a worse situation. Actually, the money you make at your job almost always means that you’ll be in a better situation, because you’ll have more income and still have access to some benefits.

To learn more, read the DB101 article on Work Incentives.

Reporting to Social Security

If you get SSI or SSDI benefits and you have a job, you have to tell Social Security your income each month.

You must report your income from one month within the first 10 days of the following month. For example, you have to report how much you made in January by February 10. If you stop working, you also have to tell Social Security. It may help to get a letter from your former employer confirming your last day of employment.

Don’t forget to keep copies of all of your pay stubs and written communications with Social Security and to take notes after meeting with Social Security employees or talking to them on the phone. Keep this information in your Benefits and Work Binder or on your computer.

Here we’ll explain what documents you need to give to these programs and how to send that information to Social Security.

What if I'm eligible for both SSI and SSDI?

If you get both SSI and SSDI benefits, you need to report all information about work and income separately to both SSI and SSDI. You need to submit 2 separate copies of your pay stubs in 2 separate letters to Social Security. Write “Attention: SSI” on one letter and “Attention: SSDI” on the other letter. You should also note in each letter that you get both SSI and SSDI.

What You Need to Report for SSI or SSDI

If you get SSI or SSDI benefits and you get a new job, you’ll have to contact Social Security and tell them:

  • The date when you started your job
  • How many hours you work per week
  • How much you earn each month
  • Your job title

If you already had this job, you don’t need to repeat all of this information every time you report your income. You will have to tell them every month:

  • Your name, address, phone number, and Social Security number
  • The type of Social Security benefits you are getting
  • The name, address, and phone number of the company that employs you
  • The name of your direct supervisor
  • The dates of the pay stubs you are enclosing
  • How much you made at work or from self-employment (including things you get instead of wages, like room and board)
  • If you got married or divorced
  • If your address changed
  • If you got any other disability benefits, such as Workers' Compensation
  • If you had any expenses you pay that are related to both your disability and your work. These expenses are known as Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWEs)
  • If there are any work incentives that you want to use

Additional Reporting Requirements for SSI

Because SSI is limited to people with low resources, you are required to report more things to Social Security to keep getting this benefit. In addition to the information listed above, if you get SSI, you must also tell Social Security:

  • If you got unearned income such as SSDI, child support payments, alimony, unemployment insurance, or any other cash you got that is not wages from work
  • If you got food and shelter from someone else
  • If your living arrangement changed (if you live with different people now)
  • The amount of savings you have, including cash (keep all of your bank statements)
  • Any other resources or resources that you have that could put you over SSI's $2,000 resource limit for a single person ($3,000 for a couple).

You can learn more about SSI reporting requirements in Social Security's Spotlight on Reporting Your Earnings, Rights and Responsibilities, and Reporting Responsibilities.

If you have questions about SSI or SSDI reporting requirements, talk to a Work Incentive Consultant.

If You Are Self-Employed

Reporting income that you earn from self-employment can be complicated, so keeping good business records is very important.

If you are self-employed, make sure you speak with the agency you are reporting to, to learn exactly how you should report your income. If you are using any work incentives, make sure you keep receipts for any work-related expenses that you may want to claim.

Income from self-employment under the SSI and SSDI programs is counted differently than income from an employer. For example, Social Security will look at your net earnings from self-employment (your profit after all business expenses are deducted). You will need to submit this information on your tax return to Social Security each year.

Preparing Your Information for Social Security

You can fill out these reporting letter templates each month when it’s time to report your earnings to Social Security:

You can either print out these forms and fill them out by hand or you can type in your answers and then print them out and sign them. If you choose not to use these forms, make sure you supply all of the required information in your own letter.

To learn more about reporting to Social Security, including information about complicated situations, like when you get both SSI and SSDI benefits, click here.

Delivering Your Report to Social Security

There are different ways to deliver your report to Social Security:

  1. You can go to your local Social Security office and personally give the letter, copies of your pay stubs, and other required information to a representative. Be sure to get a receipt when you submit the copies to the representative.
  2. You can put the letter, copies of your pay stubs, and other required information in an envelope and drop them off at your local Social Security office without waiting to see a representative.
  3. You can also mail copies of your pay stubs to your local Social Security office. It is important to write either “Attention: SSI” or “Attention: SSDI” on the envelope to ensure that the correct Social Security department gets the letter.
  4. For SSI, you can also check with Social Security if you can report earnings during the first six days of the month by using the SSI Telephone Wage Reporting System at 1-866-772-0953, the my Social Security online wage reporting tool, or the SSI Mobile Wage Reporting Application available in the Google Play or Apple App stores.

If you have questions about the best way to report your earnings, ask a representative at your local Social Security office or talk to a Work Incentive Consultant.

SSI or SSDI Overpayments

If you do not tell Social Security that you are working, you are breaking the rules and can get too much in SSI or SSDI cash benefits. This is called an overpayment.You can be held responsible for paying back this money.

You can also have an overpayment if you get SSI benefits and do not report how much you have in resources, such as your savings and checking accounts. Social Security could decide later that you were not eligible for the SSI benefits that you got because you were over the $2,000 resource limit ($3,000 for a couple).

If an overpayment does occur, you will have to pay back the amount Social Security overpaid you. To learn more about SSI and overpayments, click here. If you have any questions about overpayments, talk to a Work Incentive Consultant.

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