Understanding Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Those who have a limited income or limited resources can struggle to deal with everyday expenses that come along with living. The government understands that there may be people that have an especially hard time, which is why they created the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. However, not everyone knows what this program is or how it could even help those in need. That is why this article aims to shine a light on how people can benefit from this opportunity!

What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Let’s start with the basics of this program. This is a federal program that receives funding through general taxes. It is available thanks to the Social Security Administration (SSA). It can give payments every month that can go towards handling necessities like shelter expenses, food costs, clothing, etc. 

Who Qualifies for SSI?

Luckily, anybody can apply for SSI. The best part? Applications are free! That means you can check your eligibility without having to spend anything! However, the program can only provide support to those that:

  • Have limited income
  • Have limited resources
  • Are disabled, blind, or at least 65 years old
  • Have a qualifying citizenship status

There are some cases where a person may automatically qualify for SSI if they are already receiving benefits from another program. This includes those that are getting support from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or retirement benefits. 

The eligibility criteria listed above are just some of the most popular. However, there are other eligibility guidelines to keep in mind which include the following:

  • Having a qualifying resident status
  • Not being absent from the country for a full calendar month
  • Not being absent from the country for 30 consecutive days (or more)
  • Meeting certain other requirements

Who Can Consider Themselves Ineligible?

There may be some instances where a person can find themselves ineligible for this program. This can include those that:

  • Are in jail
  • Are in prison
  • Deal with an unsatisfied felony
  • Deal with an unsatisfied arrest warrant
  • Are in a public institution
  • Give resources away

What Does “Disabled” Mean?

When it comes to the eligibility requirements above, we want to provide some clarification! An individual may be able to qualify if they have a disability. The SSA may consider you to have a disability if you have a medically determinable impairment that’s either physical or mental. The impairment must meet at least one of the following conditions:

  • Makes it impossible to do any substantial gainful activity
  • Is expected to result in death
  • Is expected to last for a continuous period of over 12 months
  • Has lasted for a continuous period of over 12 months

How Much Can You Get from SSI?

The exact amount that you can get will depend on your specific situation. However, there are maximum limits when it comes to the benefits of this program. For 2022, these maximum limits are:

  • $841 for Individuals
  • $1,261 for a Couple

Are There Resource Limits?

Resources are important when it comes to eligibility for this program. Resources are things that you own. Some examples of resources would include:

  • Bank Accounts
  • Cash
  • Land
  • Life Insurance
  • Mutual Funds
  • Personal Property
  • Stocks
  • U.S. Savings Bonds
  • Vehicles
  • Anything else that you own that has the potential to be converted to cash and used for shelter or food

That is why there are resource limits in place. These limits include:

  • $2,000 for Individuals
  • $3,000 for a Couple

Some resources do not count when determining how many you have! Some resources that the SSA will not count include the following:

  • Your Home
  • The land that your home is on
  • One vehicle if it is used for transportation
  • Household goods
  • Personal effects (like a wedding ring)
  • Life Insurance Policies with a value worth less than $1,500
  • Burial spaces for you or your immediate family

Are There Income Limits?

Income is another important factor when it comes to the SSI program. There are income limits that applicants need to comply with. For an individual, the income limit is $1,767 per month. For a couple, the income limit is $2,607 per month. These are the limits regarding 2022, and they are subject to change! 

There are some forms of income the SSA will not count. These forms of income include the following:

  • The first $20 of income that an applicant receives during a month
  • The value of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits received
  • Home energy assistance
  • Income tax refunds
  • Irregular or infrequent small amounts of income 
  • Educational grants

That is why it is important to keep in mind this program only looks at your “countable income” instead of your gross income. 

How to Apply for SSI?

Surprisingly, there are a variety of ways that you can apply for this program. You have the opportunity to apply either over the phone or online. If you want to apply over the phone then you can call 1-800-772-1213 (or TTY 1-800-325-0778 if you are hard of hearing or deaf). Those that are hard of hearing or deaf can also reach out to 1-800-772-1213. This number is specifically for telecommunications relay services (TRS).

When applying online you can tell the SSA that you want to apply for SSI. The process typically takes at most 10 minutes. You would need to provide some personal details like your:

  • Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Social Security Number
  • Mailing Address
  • Phone Number
  • Email Address (This is Optional)

Once you finish the online process, a representative from the SSA will schedule an appointment to help you with the application for benefits. They will send the date and time of the appointment by either mail or email within between seven to 14 business days. There may also be instances where a representative from the SSA calls to schedule the appointment. You will want to apply as soon as possible. This will ensure that you get the support you need sooner rather than later!

Overall

One helpful assistance opportunity is Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This is a program that aims to provide monthly payments to qualifying individuals. To qualify, applicants will need to have limited income and resources and be either 65 years old (or older), blind, or have a qualifying disability. If you need more information, you can reach out to the SSA. If you want to begin the application process, you can get in touch through the phone or online. This program may be able to assist your current situation. 

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