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Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

An Overview of the SSI Process

In This Section:

What is SSI?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is provided to the aged (65 years or older), blind or disabled who are not considered "insured" by the Federal Government but need cash assistance to meet their minimum monthly expenses. Supplemental Security Income is a "needs" based program and is only provided to claimants who have VERY limited income and resources and who meet additional non-economic considerations. You might know this to be supplemental social security insurance, but the proper term is Supplemental Security Income.

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SSI Eligibility

Economic Eligibility Requirements for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)


Claimants must meet very specific requirements to be eligible for Social Security Disability Income. First you must meet the income and resource requirements which are outlined by the Federal government:

Limited Income requirements from SSA
According to the Social Security Administration you must have limited income. Income can be earned income (wages), unearned income (Social Security benefits, pensions, state disability payments, unemployment benefits, and cash from friends and family), in-kind income (any food or shelter that you receive which is less than the fair market value), or deemed income (income from your spouse or parents).

Not all types of income are counted as "income" for the SSI program, but in general, the more income you receive the less Supplemental Social Security Income benefits will be paid to you. If your countable income is higher than the amount allowed, you will not qualify for Supplemental Security Income payments.

2012 Limited Resources
To qualify for Supplemental Security Income, you must also have limited resources. The Social Security Administration considers resources as things you own such as: land, vehicles, personal property, bank accounts, United States' Savings Bonds, life insurance, and cash. The current limit for 2012 is $2000 per individual and $3000 per couple.

Not all resources are counted by the Social Security Administration. Currently, the SSA exempts the following resources:

  • Your primary residence and land
  • Personal effects and household goods.
  • Burial plots for your immediate family members
  • Burial funds for you and your spouse up to $1,500
  • Life insurance policies for $1500 or less
  • One vehicle
  • Grants, fellowships, or gifts which are set aside to pay for educational costs within 9 months after their receipt
  • Retroactive SSI or Social Security benefits for up to nine months after you receive them

Non-economic Eligibility Requirements for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
In addition to the economic eligibility requirements listed above, you must also meet the non-economic requirements to receive Supplemental Security Income. SSI will only be awarded to you if you are one of the following:

  • Aged -- You must be age 65 years or older.
  • Blind -- You must be considered "blind" by the Social Security Administration which means you must have "a central visual acuity field of 20/200 or less in your better eye after corrective action or you must have a visual field limitation in your better eye, such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees."
  • Disabled -- You must be considered disabled by the Social Security Administration which means you must have a mental or physical health condition that causes such severe functional limitations that you are unable to perform substantial work, and the condition is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months.

Additionally, you must be a United States citizen or national or be included in a certain category of alien.

Who is not eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

  • Anyone who is not considered a United States citizen or national, who does not meet a specific "alien" category (established under 1996 legislation) or who is not the resident of one of the 50 states, the Northern Mariana Islands or the District of Columbia.
  • Anyone who has an active warrant for deportation
  • Anyone who is absent from the country for more than 30 consecutive days
  • Felons who has escaped from custody or who have violated a condition of their probation or parole.
  • Individuals who are incarcerated will not receive SSI for any full calendar month they are in custody.
  • Individuals who are in a local, state or Federal government run institution for a full month will not receive SSI for that month.
  • Anyone who gives away their resources or attempts to sell them for less than their market value to qualify for SSI may be ineligible for Supplemental Security Income benefits for up to 36 months.
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SSI Monthly Benefit Payment Amounts

SSI payments are based on the Federal Supplemental Security Income payments. Generally these amounts are increased each year according to the cost of living adjustments which are done for Social Security payments.

Cola Adjustments
In 2012 there was a COLA adjustment. In 2012, these payments were $698 per individual and $1048 for an individual who had an eligible spouse.

In 2013 there was another COLA adjustment. In 2013, these payments are $710 per individual and $1066 for an individual who has an eligible spouse.

You may receive more SSI if you live in a state which adds a supplemental state benefit. You also may have your monthly SSI payment reduced based on your countable income. If your countable income is too high for a month, you may not receive your SSI payment for that month.

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Hiring a SSI Disability Lawyer

SSI disability lawyers frequently work with claimants who are seeking SSI benefits. If you are seeking social security disability income due to a disability, you may need specific medical evidence to prove you are disabled and unable to perform substantial work.

Social Security Disability lawyers work with hundreds of claimants each year to make sure they get the SSI benefits they need to meet their basic needs each month. Do not get discouraged if you have been denied SSI benefits multiple times. Many Supplemental Security Income claimants must appeal their denial several times to win benefits. If you need help with your case, contact an SSI attorney who can review your SSI claim and file your SSI appeal.

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