Supplemental Security Income

Suffering from a disability can limit a person’s ability to complete basic job tasks in positions for which they are qualified. Financial struggles are common when a person cannot work due to a disability. Assistance is available to people who have worked in the past, but people who have not worked enough to qualify for these benefits may wonder where to turn. Supplemental security income (SSI) benefits are available for low-income individuals who meet certain criteria.

What is SSI?

SSI is a financial assistance program that is available to low-income individuals who suffer from a disability. The payments that are sent to individuals in the form of SSI benefits are intended to pay for basic necessities including food, clothing and housing.

Difference From SSDI

SSI is often confused with social security disability insurance (SSDI). SSDI benefits are funded by paycheck deductions and are only available to people who have worked in the past. People who apply for SSDI do not have to be considered to be low-income individuals.

People who are over the age of 65 can be eligible for SSI benefits if they meet income requirements. Qualifying for benefits is not contingent on disability status for this age group. Anyone who applies for SSDI benefits must suffer from a debilitating disability that makes it impossible to work in order to qualify.

SSI Income Limits

One of the characteristics of SSI benefits is that people must fall below a certain income threshold in order to be considered to be eligible for these benefits. The Federal Benefit Rate (FBR) is used to determine whether a person qualifies for SSI. This rate allows the SSA to set limits on the amount of income that a person can make and the total benefit amount to be paid out on a monthly basis.

The 2013 FBR is set at $710 for individuals. Couples who apply for SSI benefits cannot make more than $1,066 per month. This amount is adjusted each year to reflect changes in the cost of living.

Income limits are not entirely straightforward. For example, a person who makes $1,000 per month through a job is not necessarily disqualified for SSI benefits. Only some of the income that comes into a household is counted for the purposes of SSI benefit eligibility determination.

Most states also add a state supplement to the income limit to better reflect the cost of living in the area. This supplement boosts the amount that people can earn each month and still qualify for SSI benefits. Supplement amounts range from $10 to $400 in the states that offer the addition to income limits. States that do not offer a supplement to income limits include Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.

State are allowed to make additional provisions related to these supplements. For example, some states limit the supplement to people who are single. Other states only offer the supplement to people who are in an assisted living facility.

People who are financially dependent on a parent or spouse should be aware that the income of these family members will be considered when the SSA determines if the applicant is eligible for SSI benefits. Household income levels could disqualify a person for benefits.

Qualifying For SSI

As mentioned above, the most important factor in determining whether a person qualifies for SSI benefits is income. SSI is a financial assistance program that is intended to benefit low-income individuals, and people who do not fall into this category will not be eligible for SSI benefits. However, disabled people who cannot work may qualify for SSDI benefits if they earn too much to qualify for SSI.

A person who applies for SSI generally must be considered to be disabled. Medical records related to a diagnosed disability will be requested. The condition must make it impossible for a person to complete work tasks, and the SSA may deny an application if an applicant could work in a past position despite their disability.

The difference between SSDI and SSI is not always apparent to people who are applying for benefits. It is important to find help when financial assistance is needed as quickly as possible. I have ten years of experience in social security cases and appeals, and am ready to fight for your benefits. Contact me today to get started on your case.

Ruth F. Kolb, Esquire has been practicing social security disability law since 2003 handling all levels of representation from initial claims through all stages of appeal.