Yes, the SSI program is a “program of last resort” and individuals who receive SSI are required to apply for unemployment and for any and all benefits for which they may be eligible. If the SSI beneficiary does not apply, they may receive a notice from SSA.
Unemployment insurance benefits and benefits paid under the CARES Act are countable unearned income. SSA disregards only the first $20 of unearned income and then counts the remainder dollar for dollar. If the individual also receives a benefit under the SSDI program, this $20 exclusion will already have been used in calculating the SSI payment amount.
If the unearned income causes the SSI payment to be reduced to zero, the special work rules of 1619(b) (continued Medicaid coverage) would not apply. Medicaid recipients who had this coverage before the COVID-19 crisis, or became eligible during the crisis, cannot be terminated by Medicaid. The State, however, may change the Medicaid category or eligibility from one program to another.
Once the UI and payments under the CARES Act stop or if/when the SSI beneficiary returns to work, a beneficiary should notify SSA immediately and ask to resume the monthly SSI payment. This can be done without a new application for up to 12 months after the SSI payment was “suspended,” due to this income. SSA will conduct a review, which is called a redetermination, to confirm that all eligibility rules are met and, if so, will restart the SSI benefit. If more than 12 months have elapsed in a suspended status, a new application will have to be filed for SSI benefits if the individual again meets the rules of the SSI program and becomes eligible.
Yes, unemployment payments and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation do not count as earned income for SSDI beneficiaries and do not affect these monthly payments. Work changes must be reported. Inform the Social Security Administration of the date that you left employment and the date you return.