Becoming disabled is not easy for anyone, but it is especially difficult if your resources are limited and you simply do not have enough income to survive. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a special program for Americans like you. The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is designed to help.
What is Supplemental Security Income?
This program is different from other SSA programs in how it is paid. While SSA disability and retirement benefits are paid from the Social Security trust fund from taxes, SSI is paid through U.S. Treasury general funds.
This type of government benefit is designed for people who have low income and few resources. These people must be:
- Age 65 or older;
- Blind; or
In addition, your disabled or blind children can qualify for SSI benefits.
How Do I Qualify for Supplemental Security Income?
Basically, your income and resources determine if you qualify for SSI benefits. Here are a few guidelines and rules for each one.
- The SSA defines income as “the money you receive such as wages, SSA benefits and pensions.”
- The SSA does NOT COUNT as income the first $20 you receive, the first $65 from working and half the amount you get from work over $65.
- Also, food stamps, nonprofit shelter and home energy assistance do not count.
- If you are disabled and working, the SSA does not count the wages you use to pay for things you need to work like wages you use to pay for a wheelchair.
- Disabled and/or blind workers can exempt income you use to pay for training or work related needs.
- Resources include real estate you own, bank accounts you have, cash and stocks and bonds.
- If your resources are worth no more than $2,000 you may qualify ($3,000 for a couple).
- If you have property for sale, it is possible to get SSI while the property remains for sale.
- The SSA does not count your house and the piece of land it sits on, life insurance policies below $1,500, your car, or funds used for burial plans.
You must also meet other rules, which include the following:
- Your residence must be in the United States or the Northern Mariana Islands, and you must be a U.S. citizen.
- You must have applied for Social Security and other benefits if you are eligible for them.
- You may live in some institutions, but city and county rest homes, halfway houses and other such places do not usually qualify.
- You might qualify if you live in a publicly operated community residence of 16 or fewer people, a public institution to attend training for a job, or an emergency homeless shelter.
- Also, if you are receiving Medicaid for half the cost of your costs in an institution, you may qualify.
How Do I Apply for Supplemental Security Income?
- You can apply online or in person at your local SSA office. You can make an appointment by phoning 1-800-772-1213.
- When you get an appointment, you should bring documents that include your Social Security card or number, birth certificate or other proof of age, information about the place you live, all paperwork connected with your earnings, medical records if blind or disabled, proof of citizenship, and bank information.
- If you are blind or disabled, the SSA has special rules for you, which include receiving benefits if you work, setting aside money for school and free special services to get to work.
Questions About Supplemental Security Income?
The Massachusetts disability lawyers at Keefe Disability Law provide help for New England residents applying for SSA disability and SSI benefits. Give us a call today toll free at 888-904-6847 to get your questions answered.