Retirement and Financial Assistance Programs [USA]

We recommend members to learn more about two programs available for residents of the United States, Social Security and Supplemental Security Income. 

Social Security

Social Security is a government administered retirement funding program; typically providing benefits at age 62+. If one becomes disabled, one may also be entitled to benefits before age 62.   Individuals who have acquired 40 quarters (10 years) of credits are eligible for benefits.  Benefits for those not holding United States citizenship, although residents, are subject to restrictions.

Eligibility for Social Security benefits also qualifies one for Medicare (medical care coverage). Funding medical insurance when one is senior is very cost prohibitive.

Social Security has an excellent web site and it is recommend you go there and educate yourself about this program. Please visit www.ssa.gov.

Paying Into Social Security

The Social Security Administration sends out benefits estimates yearly.  See if you have 40 quarters of coverage.  If you are unsure, contact them by calling (800-772-1213) or by visiting their website.  www.ssa.gov. You can also visit your local social security office; it is best to schedule an appointment. 

You need 40 quarters of coverage or 10 years to be eligible to Social Security and Medicare.The minimum amount of income for coverage in a quarter currently is $1,050 or $4,200 annually. This amount changes each year, so be sure to check to make sure you are paying on enough income. 

Social Security has an online Retirement Estimator, which lets you review your eligibility and expected levels of Social Security benefits at all possible retirement ages. Log on to www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.  You will be prompted to enter your name, date of birth, Social Security number, mother’s maiden name and place of birth.

You can pay in yourself each quarter as a self-employed person by filing e a schedule C, or CEZ.   You may count your donations and offerings as income.  If you decide to do this you should declare all of the donations.

The current rate of Social Security Tax is 15.3% for self employed individuals.  For those employed, the employer pays half of this cost.

Helping You Qualify by Paying Social Security Taxes

People who give you donations cannot count them as charitable donations for their income tax as they need to donate to a nonprofit to get the deduction.  Some people make arrangements for the money they are donating to go to a center so that the tax-deduction can be made by the donor.  Centers themselves often make offerings to teachers, etc. 

We advise the Center to pay you through payroll as a wage and deduct the appropriate income and social security taxes.

 IMI is also researching options to provide payroll services in order to ensure that all members pay into the system to meet the eligibility guidelines.

The center or IMI may pay the person a wage and deduct the income and social security taxes. 

Please note this is general advice is not conclusive.  It is important you contact a tax professional or the Social Security Administration to discuss your personal situation.

Supplemental Security Income [SSI]

Supplemental Security Income [SSI] is a federal program that provides monthly cash payments to people in need. SSI is for people 65 or older, as well as for blind or disabled people of any age, including children. To qualify you must have little or no income and few resources available to you. This means that  you must have less than $2,000 if you are single or less than $3,000 if you are married.

Certain personal property such as a home or car are not included in determining the limit.  The value of certain other resources, such as a burial plot, may not count either.

To get SSI, you also must apply for any other cash benefits you may be eligible for, such as disability or unemployment benefits.   SSI will supplement those benefits up to the SSI  level. The curent SSI Federal benefit level is $637 per month.  States sometimes supplement the federal level.  For example, the California benefit level 870 per month for someone living independently. If you live with someone else, the benefit is $658.

If you are approaching age 65 (or 62), and you have more than $2,000 in assets, you might want to consider using some of the money you have in order to reach the $2,000 limit set for resources to become eligible for SSI. 

Eligibility for SSI also ensures you can qualify for Medicaid or MediCal medical care programs.  As long as you are eligible to collect $1 of SSI, you qualify and the medical coverage can be critical.

Social Security has an excellent web site and it is recommend you go there and educate yourself about this program.  Please visit www.ssa.gov.    

American Association of Retired Persons has an excellent website including an interactive questionaire that you can use to plan www.www.aarp.org/quicklink.

Other Programs

Based on local and state government programs, other income supplemental programs may be available. It is important to check with one’s local area government for additional services offered, including disability, food programs, etc.

If you have questions on any of these resources, please feel free to contact office@imisangha.org