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How To Live Off SSI

Updated on November 17, 2011
SSI Card
SSI Card | Source

Choosing Your SSI Budget

How to live off Social Security Income is a question everyone asks themselves after their benefits start. The low amount of monthly income can make budgeting your finances very difficult, but not impossible. Some of the most effective budgets are those that are percentage based, this will allow for many variables to be worked in as needed. Percentage based budgets also help if there are fluctuations of your income, if it goes up due to a cost of living increase, or to factor in unexpected expenses.

Most of those who live off SSI already own their own home, live in retirement homes, trailer parks, Section 8 low income housing, or with family or friends. Rent or mortgages alone would take up too much of their income otherwise, and by living in one of the above frees up enough money to survive.

Sample Budget For Those On Disability

As it has been requested multiple times here is a sample budget for those on Disability earning the standard $674.00 per month.

This budget does not allow for much room for error, although when you live on disability having that level of income is rough to even survive on.

30 % towards rent, ($202.20)

20 % towards food, toilet paper, household items ($134.80)

20 % Car Insurance, Gasoline, and repairs ($134.80)

15 % toward utilities ($101.10)

10 % Entertainment-Cable, Internet, etc ($67.40)

5 % Banked for emergencies ($33.70)

100% $(674.00)

Sample Living Off SSI Budget

Below is a sample budget based on receiving $1,000.00 per month from SSI to live on.

30 % towards rent, mortgage, taxes

25 % toward utilities

20 % towards food, toilet paper, household items

10 % Car Insurance, Gasoline, and repairs

10 % Entertainment-Cable, Internet, etc

5 % Banked for emergencies


The above example will translate into the following dollar amounts:

300.00 towards rent, mortgage, taxes

200.00 towards food, toilet paper, household items

250.00 toward utilities like phone, electric, and natural gas.

100.00 Car Insurance, Gasoline, and repairs

100.00 Entertainment-Cable, Internet, etc

50.00 Banked for emergencies


Steps To Living Off SSI

1) Write down any incomes coming into the household. Include SSI, 401k, Dividends, and any other active or passive incomes.

2) Write down all expenses within the household. Make sure to include rent or mortgage, taxes, food, household items like toilet paper, phone, electric, natural gas, car insurance, gasoline, and any other bills you may have.

3) Categorize your expenses into groups like utilities, rent or mortgage, household items, food etc.

4) Compare your total expenses to total income. If your expenses are greater than SSI income, try to cut some discretionary expenses out to ensure you have enough income from SSI to live off of, and cover all expenses.

Important SSI Tips

Figure out what percentage of your SSI income is necessary to cover each category of expenses. Make sure to factor in at least 5 % of your net income towards savings for emergency situations, this is VITALLY important to follow, especially when SSI is your only income. If say a window in your home breaks you will have the funds to replace it rather than leaving it broken for long periods of time.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      There's a huge difference between living on $1000 a month and the current maximum SSI benefit of $698 a month. Also, people who have 401k's or dividends or other income aren't eligible for SSI. You have to have exhausted all other sources of income before you can even apply.

    • jasoncox83 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Ohio

      @Pete, it varies from state to state I would imagine, you would want to check with your local SSI office. Remember to keep in mind that certain areas, and states have a much higher cost of living expenses. As to your question on taxes you do not have to pay taxes on any SSI income, and it varies on a state to state basis but you are able to earn extra income up to a certain amount before they will deduct from your SSI check. Many collect SSI, and work a part time job 15-20 hours a week.

      @ Dtrane you gotta love the trolls lol...That is on "Social Security, not SSDI which is Disability, they are two totally different programs. As an example, one of my family who retired from the military makes over 2,000 a month from his social security alone, not to mention his 401k etc. Your attempt to troll has failed and I shall now hang a "do not feed the troll sign"

    • profile image

      Pete in AZ 

      7 years ago


      Do I have to pay any taxes at the end of year?

      How much can I save without it affecting my SSI payments?

      What states pay the best state SSI?


    • jasoncox83 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Ohio

      @ Shannon, this is very true. If you are getting food assistance you could easily trim it down to 10% and have extra for another area, or even just save it if you so desired.

      Thank you for the long thought out comment, these are the type I love to read.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks Jason for posting this article. I am sure you are aware of the COLA increase starting in 2012 for social security beneficiaries. The only way one can truly make it, is like you said, have a HUD rental subsidy and/or have a roommate who shares expenses with them. Also, using coupons helps with food and non-food costs. Most persons on SSI are eligible for food assistance or food stamps, which averages around $200.00 per month. As for the emergency savings, a rate of 5% does not allow for much savings. I would sooner go with a rate of 10% in savings, and try to trim the personal/household/food budget area to around 10-15% to compensate.

    • jasoncox83 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Ohio

      Updated with a sample budget for those on the standard disability amount.

    • jasoncox83 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Ohio

      really it would vary based on where you live, so to make an exact budget would be difficult to say. The only one I could do is if you lived in Section 8 Hud Housing where the rent would be 30% of your gross income. That would make your "Rent" $202.20. This leaves you $471.80 left to work with...I will add a new addition with some of these numbers in a moment

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Yea, tell us how to do it on that amount!!!!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Now tell us how to do it on 674 since that's the maximum ssi pays disabled people.


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