Signed into law by President Nixon in 1972, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) works in tandem with Social Security to protect low-income seniors and people with severe disabilities against the worst effects of poverty. The modest income support from SSI gives seniors and people with disabilities who have limited income and resources the ability to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, and pay for needed, often life-sustaining medications.
There are strict requirements to qualify for SSI. Assistance is reserved for people who are blind; age 65 or older; or have a severe disability – and who meet very strict income and asset limits. The Social Security Administration will consider money you earn from work, from other sources, and any free food and shelter as income that affects your eligibility. Income such as food stamps, needs-based assistance funding, loans, or small amounts of income received irregularly or infrequently are not considered countable income. The Administration will also consider assets such as cash, bank accounts, land, vehicles, personal property, and anything else you own that can be converted to cash and used for food or shelter. The resource limits are $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple.
The SSI program also has strict citizenship and residency requirements. You must be either a U.S. citizen or meet the alien eligibility criteria under the 1996 legislation and its amendments. Furthermore, you must live in the United States or the Northern Mariana Islands. Individuals living in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, or abroad are not eligible for SSI payments.
Benefits for SSI are extremely modest, and average around $542 per month, or $6,504 per year — way below the Federal poverty level. The monthly maximum SSI amounts for 2019 are $771 for an eligible individual, $1,157 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse, and $386 for an essential person.
If you or someone you know is unable to work due to a medical condition, please contact us for a free evaluation of your claim.
Sources: https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-income-ussi.htm ; https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-eligibility-ussi.htm ; https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/SSI.html ; https://nosscr.org/supplemental-security-income-overview/
By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disablity Services, LLC®