In 2020, approximately 8 million individuals received federally administered payments, with supplemental security income being the primary benefits program. 80% of the recipients were eligible based on disability and blindness.
However, besides disability, a lot comes into play when determining your qualification for SSI benefits. Are you wondering if you are eligible for supplemental security income?
Keep reading this guide to understand what you need to do to qualify for SSI and how the benefit differs from others.
What Are Supplemental Security Income Benefits?
Supplemental security income, abbreviated as SSI, is a federally administered program. It offers basic financial assistance to seniors and individuals with disabilities. The benefits are for people who have limited money or are on a low income.
Supplemental Security Income vs. Social Security Disability Insurance
Many individuals confuse Supplemental Security Income (SSI) with Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). And while both programs offer financial help to the disabled, SSDI supports individuals with disabilities who have a qualifying work history.
Your qualification for SSI depends on your age, disability, and limited resources. On the other hand, qualification for SSDI depends on disability and work history or credits.
In most states, if you are eligible for SSI, you also qualify for Medicaid health care coverage. In contrast, with SSDI, you first have to receive disability benefits for at least 24 months before you are eligible for Medicare, with individuals with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis being an exception.
How Do You Qualify for SSI?
A substantial number of the individuals receiving federally administered supplemental security income benefits are seniors. But to qualify for SSI benefits, you must meet all of the following requirements:
Income represents the amount of money you earn, your social security benefits, unemployment benefits, and pensions. It also includes the value of other benefits that you receive from someone else, including shelter and food.
Your total income determines the amount of SSI that you receive per month. The more limited your income is, the higher the benefits. But the rules may differ from one state to the next.
Assets and Resources
Resources and assets represent the value of the things you own. These may include land, cars, life insurance, stocks, savings bonds, and other personal properties.
To qualify for SSI, your assets should not exceed $2,000 for a single person and $3,000 for a couple. Again, the rules differ from one state to the next.
Some states may not consider the house you live in or the car you drive to establish your qualification. They only pay attention to your bank accounts, cash, stocks, and bonds.
You must be at least 65 years old to qualify for SSI benefits. However, if you are blind or have a developmental disability, the age requirement may be waived.
Blind or Disabled Individuals
Blind people may be eligible for supplemental security income, but they must meet some criteria. For instance, the applicant should have a central visual acuity of at least 20/200 in the distance and a better eye working with lenses.
You may also be eligible if you have a visual field limitation in your better eye. The widest diameter of the visual field should subtend an angle of almost 20 degrees.
Depending on your state, if you have a visual impairment but are not blind, you may qualify for SSI benefits. But in this case, you will be eligible on a disability basis.
When it comes to disability, the requirements differ with age. Suppose you are under 18 years old. In such a case, you are considered disabled if you have proven physical or mental impairment.
You qualify as disabled if you have learning or emotional impairments. The learning and emotional impairment must be proven to be severe enough that it can cause functional limitations or even death. The limitations should have lasted or been expected to last for at least 12 months.
If you are an adult, or 18 years old or older, the criteria for determining if you are disabled almost similar to those stated above. But you are likely to qualify for supplemental security income benefits if your condition is severe and meets the threshold of being disabled.
The medical conditions should be continuous. And they may include cancer and brain disorders.
Citizenship and SSI Benefits
To be eligible for SSI benefits, you must be a national or citizen of the U.S. If not, you should be an alien and meet all the standard requirements under the 1996 legislation.
A qualified alien has been lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the US, including American immigrants. Alternatively, you should be granted conditional entry under INA section 203(a) (7) prior to April 1980.
Besides, you should be a resident of one of the 50 US states, the Northern Mariana Island, or the District of Columbia. Nonetheless, this requirement does not apply to children of military parents who may be on duty outside the US.
SSI eligibility for aliens differs a bit from that of citizens. The standard requirements of being aged, disabled or blind apply. But you must meet any of the following criteria:
You were legally living in the US and receiving SSI as per August 22, 1996:
- You were lawfully admitted for permanent residence and meet the criteria of 40 quarters of earnings
- You are part of the US Armed Forces, or you once were and were honorably discharged from the military
- If you are the spouse, dependent child, widow, or widower of a member of the US military
- You were legitimately living in the US on August 22, 1996, and meet the qualifications of a blind or disabled person
Similarly, if you are a refugee in the US, admitted under section 207 of the INA, you may qualify to receive financial assistance.
Confirm Your SSI Eligibility and Apply Online
Thanks to technological advancement, the internet provides you with a convenient platform to apply for SSI benefits.
If you meet the above requirements to be eligible for the benefits, take your time to research the application requirements. Gather the necessary documents before you rush into the application process.
Keep refreshing our site for more content updates.
Read also: Affordable short term disability insurance