In September, Social Security published final rules about the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax (HEART) Act.
The HEART Act changes the way the agency treats certain cash payments to members of the uniformed services and veterans under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which will enable some of them to continue to receive government disability benefits and others to receive a higher benefit amount.
“This law allows the men and women of our armed forces, veterans, and their families to keep more of their military-related payments while also maintaining eligibility for valuable cash and healthcare benefits,” Commissioner Michael Astrue said. “We must provide support and assistance to our active duty military and our wounded warriors, and the HEART Act improves our ability to do so.”
Aged, blind or disabled individuals who have limited income and resources can qualify for monthly SSI benefits from the Social Security Administration and Medicaid from the states. As a general rule, if other income goes up, the SSI payment will go down. Income and resources are major factors used in deciding SSI eligibility and SSI payment amount.
The HEART Act does the following:
• Treats most cash military compensation as earned income for SSI purposes, which generally provides a higher benefit to the service member as a result of the SSI program’s more favorable consideration of earned income.
• Excludes certain state annuity payments to disabled, blind or aged veterans from countable income and resources used to determine SSI eligibility.
• Excludes any cash or in-kind payments provided by AmeriCorps State and National and AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps from countable income.