Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a government-funded program that benefits thousands of low-income Americans every year. If you are over the age of 65, are blind, or are otherwise disabled, you may qualify to receive monthly SSI benefits.
If you think SSI or other Social Security programs may be for you, it is always wise to consider speaking with a disability attorney who can help you apply. However, before you get started, here are the five most important things to know about SSI:
1) SSI is a needs-based program.
Supplemental Security Income is for low-income American citizens that are:
- Age 65 or older,
- blind, or
- otherwise disabled.
To receive SSI, you must submit an application to the Social Security Administration (SSA) demonstrating your need and requesting assistance. There are multiple factors that go into deciding whether or not you qualify for aid, such as:
- severity of your disability
- your ability to work
- your amount of income (wages, pensions, other Social Security benefits, etc.)
- your amount of resources (real estate, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, or other significant things you own)
After evaluating your situation, the SSA determines whether or not you are eligible to receive SSI benefits. If you are eligible, you will receive a monthly dispersement of funds from the government. The base amount dispersed is the same regardless of where you live. However, if you qualify for SSI, you may receive additional benefits from your state depending on it’s Social Security laws.
2) Spouses can affect your income.
There are different income and resource limits for single applicants and for couples.
For example, a single applicant may be disqualified for SSI if he/she makes over a certain amount of money. However, if they are the sole provider for their partner, their chance of getting SSI benefits is higher because their money must be used to support an additional body.
The same goes for determining resources. A single person has the best chance at receiving SSI if their resources amount to less than $2,000. However, a couple whose resources amount to less than $3,000 are still considered potential candidates for SSI benefits.
3) Not all income and resources “count."
The SSA considers wages, pensions, other Social Security benefits, and potentially other factors (such as food or shelter) to be a person’s largest sources of income. However, the SSA does not consider all income when reviewing a case, such as:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP benefits, formerly called Food Stamps),
- your first $20 of most monthly income,
- your first $65 earned from monthly work,
- shelter received from most non-profit organizations, or
- most forms of home energy assistance.
When evaluating resources, the SSA refers most heavily to your bank accounts, cash, stocks, bonds, or real estate. However, they do not count belongings such as:
- your car,
- your current home and the land it is on, or
- life insurance policies below $1,500.
4) Children under 18 are evaluated using their parents’ income.
Children who are under 18 and are either blind or disabled may qualify to receive SSI benefits as well.
In this case, the applicant’s parents and their income/resources are evaluated to determine if the child requires further financial assistance. However, only part of the parents’ income is considered when determining eligibility for SSI benefits.
5) It is possible to receive both SSI and SSDI at the same time.
SSI benefits and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are two separate programs. SSDI benefits are paid to retirees over 62, people with qualifying disabilities, and survivors of workers who have died. If you think you may qualify for SSDI and SSI, it is possible to apply for and receive both.
While it is possible to complete the process on your own, the paperwork for these applications can be tricky. If you plan on applying for SSI or SSDI, it is wise to consult with a disability attorney.
Contacting a Social Security Attorney
Disability attorneys are an irreplaceable resource when filing for Social Security disability benefits. To give yourself the best chance at receiving the assistance you deserve, speak with a disability attorney today.