What You Should Know About SSI Benefit Eligibility
When people hear the words “Social Security,” they probably immediately think of retirement. But Social Security provides important assistance for more than just retirees. As of 2012, 56 million American citizens received Social Security benefits, 19% of whom were receiving disability benefits and 4% were the young survivors of deceased workers. If you don’t already receive Social Security Disability Benefits, there’s a strong possibility that you might need them some day. It’s estimated that out of all the people who have recently entered the workforce, 37% of men and 31% of women will either become disabled or die before they reach full retirement age.
If you find yourself disabled and unable to work, or only able to work in a limited capacity, one type of Social Security benefit you might need to apply for is Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI provides financial assistance to low-income individuals who are disabled, blind, or at least 65 years old. SSI defines being disabled as not being able to perform any substantial work as a result of your condition and that your condition is expected to last for a year or is likely to result in your death.
Determining your eligibility for SSI can be a complicated process. You have to meet specific requirements based on your income and the amount of resources you have available.
Income can include things such as wages from a job, court settlements, alimony, child support, and some of the income from other people in your household (spouse if an applicant is married, parents if the applicant is a minor). The amount of income you can have while remaining eligible for SSI varies from state to state.
However, many types of income are not factored into determining SSI eligibility. When determining your total income, SSI excludes things such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, and many home energy assistance programs. If you are blind or disabled but able to work, any money you use on things that help you be able to work may not be included. For example, if a blind person needs to spend money on transportation to get to and from work, that money could not be counted as income. If you are a student who has some income from a job or scholarships, some of that might be excluded.
The total amount of resources you have available is to be worth no more than $2,000 for a single person and $3,000 or less for a married couple. Resources include assets like stocks, bonds, real estate, and bank accounts. Much like the income requirements, SSI excludes some types of resources in determining eligibility. The house you primarily live in, the land your primary residence is located on, your car (in most cases), life insurance policies worth $1,500 or less, and previously purchased burial plots for yourself and immediate family members all do not count against you if you’re applying for SSI. If you are in the process of trying to sell property, it is possible to get SSI while trying to sell it.
SSI eligibility can also depend on whether or not a person lives at home or in an institution (public or private), nursing facility, shelter, or community home. In most cases, SSI isn’t available to people in halfway houses and city or county operated rest homes. If a person is in a public or private institution that is mostly being paid for by Medicaid, they could possibly receive a small SSI benefit. People living in homeless shelters or in residence halls so they can attend school may be eligible for SSI benefits.