Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program

Agency: Social Security Administration (SSA)
Office: Office of Public Inquiries
Room 4100, Annex, SSA, Baltimore, MD 21235. Telephone: (410) 965-2736

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Federal Funding: FY14 $54,723,000,000; FY15 $56,201,000,000; est.
Note: SSI is funded from the U.S. Treasury General Funds, not the Social Security Taxes

What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI) ?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a US Federal Government Program that ensures a minimum level of income is provided to US persons who have attained age 65 or are blind or disabled, and whose income and resources are below specified minimum levels. Disabled or blind children also can receive monthly payments of Supplemental Security Income Program.

The SSI was created back in 1974 in order to eliminate the difference between the similar assistance programs each State was offering. They had different eligibility requirements like income level, resources and different standards for disability. Nowadays the basic eligibility requirements and SSI monthly payments funded by the Federal Government are the same for every State, but States can, and some of them do add money to the basic SSI benefit. Always check with a local SSA office to find out the amounts of the Supplemental Security Income for your State.

Current SSI maximum allowed federal amounts for 2015 are $733.00 for each eligible individual and $1,100.00 for each eligible couple.  The monthly SSI amount is reduced if the eligible persons have countable monthly income. This is the income left after SSA applies all exclusions to what a SSI eligible person or couple receives per month. In general, income exclusions for the SSI are money and items received that cannot be used as, or to obtain food or shelter.  Examples are free medical care or money that is received as repayment of an amount previously spent by the SSI recipient. In addition, there is general earned income exclusion which is up to $1,551 for 2015 per month for an individual that has only earnings income. Exact exclusions are calculated by the SSA.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Supplemental Security Income Program is authorized under Title XVI of the Social Security Act and administered by the SSA. This entitlement program helps millions of Americans financially who have low income, disabilities, who are blind, or who are aged 65 and older. The SSI eligibility requirements are defined by the Federal Government below.

You are eligible for SSI if you are:

1. US Citizenship and Residency – to apply and receive Supplemental Security Income you must be a U.S. citizen and live in the United States. In some cases, non-citizen US residents can qualify for SSI, and the most common case is residents lawfully admitted for permanent residence under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that have a total of 40 credits of work history in the United States. For more info about SSI for noncitizens call 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778).

And, you are:

2. Aged 65+, Disabled, or Blind

a) Aged 65 and older – Social Security Administration considers a person to be 65 years old the day before their birthday.

or

b) To be found disabled for SSI purposes an 1) individual age 18 or older must be unable to perform any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months; 2) an individual under age 18 must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments that causes marked and severe functional limitations, and that can be expected to cause death or that has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months. An individual under age 18 who files a new application for benefits and is engaging in substantial gainful activity will not be considered disabled.

or

c)  To be found blind for SSI purposes the individual should meet the following definition of “statutory blindness,” which means a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the individual’s better eye with use of a correcting lens; or a visual field limitation in the better eye, such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees. In addition, for SSI purposes, an individual is considered blind regardless of the period of time they are expected to be blind or if they are performing substantial gainful activity.

And you have

3. Low Income and Limited Resources / Assets

This means low income and resources as defined by the SSA. The eligibility of an individual who has attained age 65 or who is blind or disabled is determined also on the basis of an assessment of the individual’s monthly income and resources. The amount of income you can receive each month and still get SSI depends partly on where you live. In determining a month’s income, the first $20 of Social Security or other unearned income is not counted. An additional $65 of earned income ($85 if the person had no unearned income) received in a month plus one-half of the remainder above $65 (or $85) also is not counted. If, after these (and other) exclusions, an individual’s countable income, effective January 2013, is less than $710 per month ($1,066 for a couple, both of whom are aged, blind or disabled) and countable resources are less than $2,000 ($3,000 for a couple), the individual may be eligible for payments.

The values of household goods, personal effects, an automobile, life insurance, and property needed for self support are, if within limits set out in regulations, excluded in determining value of resources.

Life insurance policies with a total face value of $1,500 or less per person do not count. Burial spaces for an individual and immediate family and burial funds, up to $1,500 each for an individual and spouse, are excluded from resources but reduced by the amount of the life insurance policy. The value of a home which serves as the principal place of residence is also excluded in resource valuation.

How to Apply for SSI ?

Visit your local Social Security Office. To expedite your SSI application you can call for an appointment and start your SSI application online 

Prepare the following before visiting SSA Office:

Social Security card or number;
Birth certificate or other proof of age;
Home information, such as a mortgage receipt or lease and landlord’s name;
Payroll slips, bank books, insurance policies, car registration, burial fund records, and other information about income and resources;
Names, addresses, and telephone numbers of doctors, hospitals and clinics (if applying due to disability or blindness);
Proof of U.S. citizenship or non-citizen status.

You can use this Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool  provided by the US Government to find out if you could get SSI benefits.