Example

James has diabetes and is getting both Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Minnesota Supplemental Aid (MSA) benefits. In order to get SSI, he had to apply for SSI with the Social Security Administration. After being approved for SSI, Michelle (his worker at the county human services agency) helped him apply online for MSA using ApplyMN. MSA gives James an additional $181 each month. This supplements his SSI benefit of $771 each month.

James also needed his doctor to complete a form saying that James was on a special diet because of his diabetes. Michelle explained that he could get a higher MSA amount each month to help pay for the food for this diet. Michelle showed him how his MSA amount is calculated. The basic calculation looks like this:

MSA Grant Calculation (for people on SSI):

James has an MSA assistance standard of $832 because he is single and lives alone in an apartment. His special needs expenses (for his doctor-prescribed diet) are $100 per month. The Federal Benefit Rate in 2019 is $771. Here is James’ MSA calculation using these amounts.

James' MSA Grant Calculation (on SSI):

James is eligible for $181 in MSA each month.

James’ MSA When He Goes to Work

Now James has started a new job at a pet food store. He got help at a WorkForce Center and was able to find work. James’ job pays $9/hour and he works 40 hours a week. His boss knows about his diabetes and lets him sit down during work and take short breaks when he needs it.

James is making $1,559/month (before taxes) and is happy to have this higher income. When James started working, he talked to Social Security. His SSI has stopped but he was told that if he stops working and still needs SSI, he can most likely get it back. This makes him feel better about taking the job. James was surprised to learn that he can still get an MSA check when he works.

Michelle explained how his MSA is calculated now with his income from work. James’ MSA assistance standard is still $832 because he still lives alone. His special needs expenses (because of his diet) are still $100 per month. MSA calculates his MSA grant amount this way:

James' MSA Grant Calculation (with work income)

Note: The MSA program uses the same rules to calculate James’ countable income as the SSI program. Learn more about the SSI's countable income calculation. MN takes off $85 of James’ earned income, then divides by 2. (1,559 – 85 = 1,474. 1,474 / 2 = 737). James’ countable income is $737 per month.

James will get a monthly MSA benefit of $195. His new total income is $1,559 (minus any taxes) plus the $195 from MSA. This is much higher than his income of $952 before he started working ($771 in SSI plus $181 in MSA). Michelle also tells James that because he gets some MSA he stays eligible for his Medical Assistance. This is important to James because of his diabetes.

Note: Under the rules of Social Security’s 1619(b) program, James may be able to keep his Medical Assistance when his SSI stops due to earnings. So even if he made too much to still get MSA, he most likely would stay eligible for his Medical Assistance.