Reporting to Social Security

It is important to tell Social Security any time your income from work changes. You should report your income from one month within the first six days of the following month. You must also tell Social Security when you start or stop working.

Be sure to keep careful and complete records of anything that might affect your benefits. Save your original paystubs, direct deposit receipts, and any other income or work information. Also, make copies of all letters and documents that you submit to SSI or SSDI, and keep all letters that any government agency sends to you. If you have questions about any of this, Chat with a Hub expert.

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

Some people are eligible for both SSI and SSDI benefits. If you get both, your SSI and your SSDI benefits will be affected differently by your earnings when you work. You will have to report all information about work and income separately to both SSI and SSDI.

Be sure to submit two different copies of your pay stubs in two different letters to Social Security. Write “Attention: SSI” on one letter and “Attention: SSDI” on the other letter. This will ensure that both programs at Social Security will record your earnings. You should also note in each letter that you get both SSI and SSDI.

Reporting Requirements

SSDI and SSI have different reporting requirements. Since eligibility for SSI and the amount you can get depend on the amount of income and savings or assets you have, there are more reporting requirements for SSI than for SSDI.

Assets are called “resources” by Social Security. Your assets include cash on hand and money in a savings account in a bank. Eligibility for SSDI benefits is not affected by the amount of assets you have. Keep careful and complete records of anything that might affect your benefits.

We will discuss the reporting requirements for SSI first, followed by the requirements for SSDI. If you get benefits from both programs, both sets of reporting requirements will apply to you.

People who get SSI must report all of their income to the Social Security Administration when they get their income. It is best to report income either in person at a local Social Security office, or in writing by mailing a letter, along with copies of your pay stubs, to Social Security.

It is important to request a receipt, either in your letter, or from the person you speak with if you go to an office. Keep a copy of everything you send to, or get from, Social Security. You might need it later to prove that you reported everything correctly.

If you have any questions about reporting requirements for Social Security, Chat with a Hub expert. Keep a copy of everything you send to, or get from, Social Security.

SSI

If you are on SSI, there are many things that can affect your benefits. The most common things that you need to report are:

  • Any earnings from work or self-employment (including things you get instead of wages, like room and board)
  • Unearned income such as SSDI, child support payments, alimony, unemployment insurance, Workers' Compensation, or any other cash that is not wages from work
  • If you get food and shelter from someone else
  • A change of address
  • A change in your living arrangement – in other words, who you live with
  • Getting married or divorced
  • The amount of savings that you have, including cash on hand (you should keep all your bank statements)
  • Other resources or assets that you get that could put you over SSI's $2,000 asset limit
  • Expenses you pay that are both related to your disability and that you need in order to work. These expenses are known as Impairment Related Work Expenses, or IRWEs

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

SSDI

If you are on SSDI, any unearned income that you get (except Worker's Compensation) and assets that you own do not affect your eligibility for SSDI benefits.

In other words, your savings and assets do not matter for SSDI. This is different than the SSI program. If you get SSDI, you do not have to tell Social Security about your unearned income or assets, unless you also get SSI.

If you are getting SSDI, the main things you will need to report to Social Security are:

  • Any earnings from work or self-employment (including things you get instead of wages, like room and board)
  • A change in marital status
  • A change of address
  • Any public disability benefits that you get, such as Workers' Compensation
  • Expenses you pay that are both related to your disability and that you need in order to work. These expenses are known as Impairment Related Work Expenses, or IRWEs
  • Any work incentives that you want to use. You can read more about SSDI work incentives in this DB101 article

If you do not know if a piece of information needs to be reported, it is best to go ahead and tell Social Security about it. Even if Social Security does not need the information, no harm will be done. If you have questions about SSDI reporting requirements, Chat with a Hub expert.

Overpayments

If you do not tell Social Security that you are working, you are breaking the rules and can get too much in 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 and do not report how much you have in assets, such as your savings and checking accounts. Social Security could decide later that you were not eligible for the SSI payments that you got because you were over the $2,000 resource limit.

If an overpayment does occur, Social Security will ask you to pay back the amount they overpaid to you. If you are found responsible for the overpayment and you can’t pay it back all at once, you will have to pay part of the total overpayment amount each month.

To avoid having an overpayment, make sure you tell Social Security when you start working and when your income changes. This is very important. Click here to learn more about SSI and overpayments. If you have any questions about overpayments, Chat with a Hub expert.

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.

Social Security Red Book

The Red Book is a manual from the Social Security Administration . It provides detailed information about Social Security programs, work incentives, and how Medicare and SSI and SSDI benefits are affected when you work.

The 2019 Red Book can be found on Social Security’s website.

How to Report to Social Security

There are several possible ways to report earnings to Social Security: in writing, in person, and by phone.

The safest way to report information is in writing, so that you have a record of what you reported and when. Always keep a copy of everything you send to Social Security, and any letters that you receive from them.

You can learn more about reporting to Social Security in Virginia Commonwealth University's Reporting Tips for Beneficiaries of Social Security Disability Programs. This is an excellent resource that gives information on the best ways to report and interact with Social Security. It also has details on what you must report if you get SSI and SSDI.

When you start or change employment, always send Social Security a letter letting them know where you are working, when you started, how much you work, how much you are paid, and the title of your position.

When you work, you should report your earnings within the first 6 days of the month following the month you worked. In other words, you have 6 days after a month ends to report your earnings for that month.

Submitting Pay Stubs to Social Security:

To report your earnings, make copies of your pay stubs and give them to Social Security. There are several ways you can do this:

  • You can go into a local Social Security office and give the copies to a representative in person. Be sure to get a receipt when you submit the copies to the representative.
  • You may also be able to put copies of your pay stubs in an envelope and drop them off at your local Social Security office without waiting to see a representative. This could save you time. Some Social Security offices have a special box in which you can drop off letters or documents.
  • You can also mail copies of your pay stubs to a 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 receives the letter. Remember that you need to submit copies to both SSI and SSDI, if you receive both benefits. Make sure you include your Social Security number on any information you send to Social Security.

If you have questions about the best way to report your earnings, ask a representative at your local Social Security office or Chat with a Hub expert.

Form for Reporting Earnings to Social Security

You can fill out the filling forms each month to report your earnings to Social Security:

Whether you use the form provided or write your own letter, the critical information that Social Security needs to know about your job always includes the following:

  • Your name, address, phone number
  • Social Security Number and date of birth
  • Type of Social Security benefits you are receiving
  • Name, address, and phone number of company that employs you
  • Name of direct supervisor
  • Date of hire/date of termination
  • Pay rate and average number of hours worked per week
  • Pay dates
  • Job title

Reporting for SSI

When You Need to Report

Report any changes that may affect your SSI as soon as possible, and no later than 10 days after the end of the month in which the change occurred.

Tip: 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 or the SSI Mobile Wage Reporting Application available in the Google Play or Apple App stores.

What You Need to Report if You Get SSI

Many changes in your life can affect your continued eligibility for SSI, or the amount of your benefit. A full list of changes that must be reported to Social Security is available on their website.

More information on reporting your earnings can be found in this Social Security article.