MSA and Work

It is possible to keep getting MSA after your SSI benefits stop when you go to work. Whether you can keep MSA in this case depends on the exact amount of income you get from work and other sources. If your income is over the limit to be eligible for MSA, both SSI and MSA benefits will stop.

Some people are eligible for MSA if they get an SSDI benefit that is low enough to qualify for an MSA benefit. For example, if a person gets $797 per month from SSDI, they would not be eligible for SSI because $797 is more than the maximum SSI amount of $771. But they might be eligible for at least $55 per month from MSA if they meet the other eligibility rules.

Earned Income – Wages or Self-Employment

Earned income from work becomes part of your countable income. As your countable income goes up, your SSI benefit goes down. Roughly speaking, every extra $2 in earned income lowers your SSI by $1. However, as long as you are getting $1 from SSI, your MSA benefit will not be affected.

Once your SSI has been reduced to zero, any more countable income reduces your MSA benefit. When you don’t get any SSI, MSA uses a calculation (similar to the one used by SSI) to figure out how much your MSA benefit will be.

For example, if you’re living alone, do not have any special needs, and are earning $1,639 per month, then you will not get a cash SSI benefit. MSA will calculate your countable income as $777 and subtract that from your MSA assistance standard ($832) so you will get $55 from MSA.

Resources

For both SSI and MSA, there is an asset limit. However, MSA's $10,000 limit is higher than SSI's ($2,000 for an individual, $3,000 for a couple). That means some people might not get SSI due to assets, but still could get MSA. Note: For SSI, your house and first car don’t count as assets. For MSA, your first car doesn't count, nor does any real estate you own (including your home).

When you work, even if your earned income stays low enough to keep MSA, you might be saving a little each month. If so, keep an eye on your savings account, with the MSA asset limits in mind.

But if your disability began before you turned 26, you can open an ABLE account where you can save up to $15,000 each year and not have it counted by MSA or SSI. (However, your SSI benefits will be suspended if the total in your ABLE account goes over $100,000.) Learn more about ABLE accounts.

See the section on SSI and Work for more information on working with the asset limits.

Health Coverage

Most people who get either SSI or MSA also qualify for Medical Assistance (MA). If you go to work, you will not automatically lose your MA health insurance. In fact there are several ways that you can keep your Medical Assistance.

If you get SSI benefits and then your benefits end due to your earnings, you may be able to keep your MA health coverage through SSI’s 1619(b) work incentive. If your earnings or assets are higher, or you never got SSI benefits, Minnesota’s Medical Assistance for Employed Persons with Disabilities (MA-EPD) program may cover you.

Learn more in DB101's disability-based MA article and DB101's MA-EPD article.