SSI payments are based on known circumstances for a past month. This is “retrospective monthly accounting” (RMA). Payments are computed for each month. RMA has two parts: an eligibility determination and a payment computation.
If you are ineligible based on the current month's factors (including the current month's countable income), no payment is due and none is paid, except where your income is too high to be eligible for a Federal payment, but low enough to be eligible for a State payment.
If you are eligible based on the current month's factors, your payment is computed. The payment for a month is generally based on your countable income from the second month before the current month. The basic formula is as follows:
Subtract the countable income from two months ago from the current month's FBR (plus any essential person increment); and
Compute any federally administered State supplementary payment by subtracting any remaining countable income.
It is possible for you to be eligible only for the State supplementary payment.
There are exceptions to the payment computation formula:
An individual or couple first becomes eligible for Federal SSI or re-attains Federal eligibility after a period of ineligibility. The SSI benefit for the first, second and third month is based on the countable income (see §2131) in the first month. Sometimes a type of income in the first month is not received in the second month. We call this "nonrecurring income." Beginning April 2005, where there is nonrecurring income, the SSI benefit for the second and third month is based on the countable income from the first month, minus the nonrecurring income.
These exceptions apply either when an individual or couple has been eligible for and paid only State supplementary payments and attains or re-attains eligibility for Federal SSI; or when an individual or couple first becomes eligible for Federal SSI or re-attains Federal eligibility after a period of ineligibility. After we apply these exceptions, we apply the regular RMA computation; i.e., the SSI benefit is based on the countable income from two months ago.
“COLA coordination.” This exception applies only to SSI recipients who have Title II (Social Security) income, and certain in-kind income. In COLA coordination, payment for January and February (the month of the COLA and the next month) is based on countable income from a prior month (as described above). The increase in Title II income, and certain in-kind income, in January and February is used immediately to compute the payments for January and February. There is no delay in using these increased income amounts.
Assistance under certain programs. Effective April 1, 1988, retrospective monthly accounting does not apply to income received as assistance under:
Title IV, Part A (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) of the Social Security Act;
Title IV, Part E (Federal Payments for Foster Care and Adoption Assistance) of the Social Security Act;
Refugee cash assistance;
Cuban/Haitian entrant assistance; and
General and child welfare assistance provided by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
These payments are used to determine the SSI benefit only for the month they are actually received. Effective February 4, 1994, people can receive Title IV, Part E and SSI at the same time.
Last Revised: Sep. 8, 2004