The United States Social Security Administration manages a program called Supplemental Security Income (SSI) that provides financial assistance to those who qualify depending on their level of financial need. Those with restricted earning potential as a result of health problems or senior age are helped by this program.
According to Social Security Administration data, 1.6% of the population, or around 5.3 million persons, received monthly SSI payments in December 2020. Every year, the amount of money you get as a monthly SSI payment will shift. The single rate in January 2020 will be $783, with a double rate of $1,175. Some states add to that total, meaning bigger payouts for people who live there.
Disability assistance programs in the United States, such as SSDI and SSI, are sometimes mistaken with one another.
In contrast to the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program does not need proof of work history or earnings. And it’s not just those with impairments who can get covered; senior citizens of the United States who meet certain requirements may too.
Who Is Eligible to Apply for SSI?
It takes a handicap, blindness, or being over 65 years old to qualify for SSI since the program is meant to help people whose income has been limited due to their health.
Individuals who are blind
Individuals who are blind and meet one of the following criteria are eligible for SSI:
- With corrective lenses, your best eye’s central visual acuity should be less than 20/200.
- Field restriction in your best eye, with the visual field’s broadest extent smaller than 20 degrees.
- Another permissible blindness criterion that may qualify you on the basis of disability.
Children with Disabilities
If a child or adolescent under the age of 18 has a medically-verified physical or mental impairment (including an emotional or learning difficulty) that causes severe functional limitations and is expected to result in death or last for at least a year, they may be eligible for SSI on the basis of disability.
Adults With Disabilities
A person over the age of 18 may be eligible for SSI based on disability if they meet both of the following conditions:
- One who has been proven to be a valid member of the medical
- A diagnosable mental or physical handicap that severely limits one’s ability to engage in gainful employment.
- A mental or physical disability fatal within a year’s time, or expected to persist at least that long.
Individuals Aged 65 and Up
To qualify for this program, a person over the age of 65 does not need to be disabled or blind; instead, they must have a low income of less than $783 per month from sources such as wages, government benefits, and investment profits.
To qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), applicants must show that they are low-income, have permanent residence in the United States, and are citizens. These conditions must be satisfied:
- Citizenship. You need to either be a citizen of the United States or meet the criteria for a qualified non-citizen.
- Residency. For immigration purposes, you must be a lawful permanent resident of a state, the District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands. A student who is studying abroad or whose parent is serving in the military and permanently stationed outside the United States may also be eligible.
- Income. Starting in January 2020, individuals applying for SSI cannot have a monthly income of more than $786 and couples cannot have a monthly income of more than $1,175.
- Resources. A maximum of $2,000 is allowed for a single applicant, while a maximum of $3,000 is allowed for a pair. Savings and other assets that may be liquidated to pay monthly costs are considered resources, with the exception of a single automobile used for work, a person’s primary dwelling, and money set aside for last arrangements. A second vehicle, a second home, and
life insuranceplans are all examples of resources that can be taken into account. If you have more money and assets than the government allows, you may have to sell them to make ends meet.
- Avoid freely giving away items that may be sold. If you do this, SSI may be revoked.
- Status in the law. Applicants must be eligible to work in the United States and have never been found in violation of their parole terms. People who are wanted by the police, in jail, or in a halfway home are not eligible for SSI.
- Domicile. Your application won’t be processed without a current address verification from you. In most cases, those residing in federal or state institutions are ineligible for assistance programs, while those residing in emergency facilities run by the federal or state government, such as a shelter, may be eligible.
It’s important to remember that SSI benefits might be impacted by a number of different federal and state initiatives. If you are receiving any state-administered assistance, such as TANF, you should contact your state office to find out how this can affect your SSI eligibility.
How to Apply for Supplemental Security Income
When applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you have two options: applying online or making an appointment with the Social Security Administration.
Contact either 1-800-772-1213 (for non-assisted or TRS calls) or TTY 1-800-325-0778 to schedule a time to submit your claim.
You can also drop by your neighborhood Social Security office without an appointment, but know that you will likely have to wait longer.
Although you can submit your application at any time, the Social Security Administration advises that you do it as soon as possible if you require financial aid, as the procedure can take three months or longer. In the event that your application is approved, you will begin receiving benefits as of the day you submitted it.
Certain medical conditions are expedited through the clearance process under the Compassionate Allowances initiative (CAL). Such situations typically entail life-threatening diseases like acute leukemia or adult-onset Huntington disease. A faster processing time will be provided for CAL-eligible applications.
How SSI Calculates Benefits
If you apply for SSI and your assets and savings (“resources”) total less than $2,000, or $3,000 for a married couple, the following factors will be considered:
- Earned Incomes.. Wages, profits from self-employment, and royalties are all examples of common forms of earned income.
- Lost Paychecks. Unearned income includes things like Social Security, disability, and unemployment checks.
- Payment Received Instead of Cash. In-kind revenue includes things like free or discounted lodging and meals.
- This money is considered to be “declared” money. The portion of an unapplied-for SSI recipient’s income from which you benefit is considered income. This includes the income of a spouse, parent, or other household member.
Certain types of revenue, such as:
- The first twenty dollars of your monthly gross salary.
- The first $65 you earn after deductions, plus 50 percent of everything you earn after that.
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
- Help with basic necessities like food and shelter from charitable organizations.
- The money you pay back on a loan.
- Support for higher education in the form of scholarships, grants, fellowships, or cash donations.
- Someone else’s investment in your utility costs.
State-Funded Supplemental Security Income Benefits
You may also be eligible for supplemental state-funded SSI payments, which are offered by the majority of states. Except for North Dakota, Mississippi, West Virginia, the District of Columbia, and the Northern Mariana Islands, SSI is available in every state in the United States.
In some cases, the federal government handles the management of a state’s supplemental security program. In addition to applying for federal aid, residents of the following states can inquire about available state programs at the time of federal aid applications.
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
The remaining 34 states each have their own supplemental health care program that they run. The requirements and application process vary per state. Your federal SSI application will be received by a Social Security representative who will then direct you to the appropriate state agency.
What Should You Do If Your SSI Application Is Rejected?
It is your right to file an appeal within 60 days after receiving notice of a denial of your application. If you feel you were unjustly rejected, filing an appeal is free and well worth your time. To initiate an appeal, one must:
- Check the “Date Posted” stamp on the envelope. Make a mental note of the date on your initial letter of decision. You may file an appeal within 60 days of this date. Don’t keep us waiting. Appeal submissions received after the deadline are likely to be denied.
- Take the Time to Read the Letter of Decision In order to make a compelling appeal, you must first comprehend the reasons behind the denial.
- To be more precise, hunt for the technical justification. Seek out the reviewer’s technical explanation for rejecting your application. Take notes, and if you have questions about the reasoning, contact the Social Security Administration for clarification.
- Collect Your SSI Records Upon Request. Ask to see your SSI file if you are confused about the reason for denial. All of your medical documents should be included.
- Appeal. You should file an appeal immediately. If you want to file an appeal, please contact SSI at 1-800-772-1213 as soon as possible. To file a written appeal, use Form SSA-561-U2, Disability Report – Appeals. You may do this in two ways: either fill out the PDF form digitally and submit it to your local Social Security office, or do it in person.
- Focus on detail. Please elaborate on any details you think SSI overlooked. Don’t forget to include any additional materials that weren’t part of your original submission.
- Ask for Help if You Need It. If you need help submitting your appeal, ask a friend or family member for help. There are legal referral programs available in some jurisdictions that provide low-cost first consultations during which you may get your issues answered and your appeal examined. You can get more information about these options by contacting the bar association in your state.
People who are receiving SSI benefits may also be eligible for other forms of government aid.
Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and children’s health insurance programs run by states are all examples of such initiatives. Qualifications and income thresholds change from state to state for the many federally supported programs managed by the states. Get in touch with the Health and Welfare Division in your state.