If you feel as though your income currently is not enough to support your needs, you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income. SSI is a program targeted to those who are elderly or disabled and who have little to no income of their own. SSI is funded by tax revenue rather than being funded as a part of the Social Security program. Here are some questions to help you determine if you might be eligible.
Do You Need Assistance for Your Basic Needs?
Shelter, food, and clothing all fall under the purview of Supplemental Security Income. If you are currently having problems paying for these things, SSI may be able to help. Those who qualify for SSI will also be able to apply for Medicaid in the state where they reside.
Many who qualify for Medicaid will also be able to acquire food stamps. Thus, Supplemental Security Income is often the first step for those who need help fulfilling their basic needs.
Are You 65+, Blind, or Disabled?
Those who are 65+, blind, or disabled may qualify for Supplemental Security Income. An individual's disability has to meet the Social Security Administration's criteria.
Some of this criteria includes being unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (perform work for money) due to mental or physical impairment. This impairment must be expected to last for at least 12 months or until the individual passes away, and a medical professional needs to document that the person could not work to support themselves. Substantial gainful activity is capped based on various circumstances.
Do You Have Limited Financial Resources?
In order to qualify for Supplemental Security Income, your assets must be below a certain limit. These limits are:
- $3,000 for a married couple
- $2,000 for an adult individual
These are liquid assets, such as savings accounts and checking accounts. If you’re not sure what is included in your assets, ask a financial expert for help.
The SSI program uses liquid assets as a means-test to determine whether individuals need aid, rather than basing this on the income that the individual has made in the past or the amount that they've paid into social security taxes.
Do You Have a Criminal Background?
Those who have parole or probation violations may not be able to qualify for Supplemental Security Income. Due to new acts taken by the Social Security Administration, those who have a criminal background or active warrants out for their arrest will want to consult with an attorney before applying for benefits.
Do You Meet Residency Requirements?
To apply for Supplemental Security Income, you need to live in one of the 50 United States, the Northern Mariana Islands, or the District of Columbia. There is an exception for children of military parents who are currently stationed abroad. Students who are temporarily abroad for education purposes can also get an exception to this rule.
Otherwise, SSI is only applied to those who are a national of the United States, a citizen, or resident aliens who meet specific requirements. These requirements can be highly fact specific, so a lawyer should be consulted by anyone who is looking into these benefits.
The SSI program currently serves a few million people. However, the program has come under fire in the past due to sometimes difficult to tackle procedures. It can be difficult to navigate the SSI process and the requirements and benefits aren't always straightforward.
To get help, contact The Law Center for Social Security Rights. We’ll answer your questions, help determine if you might be eligible, and walk you through the process of applying so you can increase your chances of being accepted.