SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home2185. Windfall Offset

2185.1 What is the windfall offset?

The “windfall offset” is an important provision that affects individuals and couples eligible for SSI. It applies to people due both SSI and Social Security benefits. The windfall offset prevents a person from receiving more benefits retroactively than would have been received if all benefits were paid in the months they were due.

We use the general rules for computing SSI payment amounts, e.g., RMA, COLA coordination, and proration, to decide the windfall offset amount. Then, the windfall offset amount reduces either the Social Security or SSI retroactive payment, depending on which we pay first.

2185.2 How does the windfall offset work?

It is our policy to pay the SSI benefits first in order to protect possible Medicaid eligibility in the retroactive period. If you are due retroactive Social Security benefits, they are reduced by the amount of SSI you would not have been due had your Social Security benefits been paid in the months they were due. The amount of the reduction is transferred from the trust funds to the general funds of the U.S. Treasury and to the States (for any State supplementary amount you would not have been due). Your eligibility and payments under SSI are not affected for the retroactive period.

In rare situations, you may receive retroactive Social Security benefits first. In this case, your Social Security benefits count as income in the months they were due to compute SSI eligibility and payments. Your SSI benefits are reduced, instead of your Social Security benefits. The amount of the reduction is transferred from the general funds to the trust funds. If no SSI benefits are payable, we will pay $1.00 as a monthly SSI payment to protect Medicaid eligibility in the retroactive period.

Last Revised: Jan. 17, 2003