How Do I Qualify for SSI Benefits?

In addition to Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) benefits, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) also runs a second program for disabled Americans entitled Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits. Even though the SSA pays out SSI benefits, the SSI program is a different sort of program. SSI benefits come from general Treasury Department funds and are intended for lower income Americans who are older, blind or disabled. After reviewing the criteria below, you may wish to speak to a Tulsa SSI lawyer for more details on qualifying for SSI benefits.

SSI and Disability

The disability standard is the same as that used for SSDI benefits, which we discussed earlier in the week on Monday. Your disability needs to severe and render you unable to work for at least 12 months.

You are also eligible for SSI benefits if you are 65 or older, or if you are blind. The SSA defines “statutory blindness” as meeting one of two conditions (although, remember that if you do not meet one of these conditions, you may still meet the “disabled” criteria):

  1. Your central visual acuity in your better eye, with a correcting lens, is less than 20/200
  2. The widest diameter of your visual field reaches an angle of 20 degrees or less

SSI and Limited Income and Resources

Because SSI benefits are a different type of program than SSDI benefits, you do not have to have a work history to receive them, but you do need to fall below the SSA’s income and resource requirements.

The SSA includes the following things as income: wages, benefits like retirement or pension payments, free food or shelter, and “deemed income,” which is money that friends and family provide to help you out. Your “countable income” then reduces the amount of your SSI benefits. In 2012, SSI benefits are $674 a month for individuals and $1,011 for couples. Any countable income reduces the amount of benefits you receive.

For resources, the SSA includes just about everything you own: money in bank accounts, stocks, land and vehicles are a few of the items that the SSA counts. Your combined resources must be under $2,000 if you are an individual, or under $3,000 for a couple, in order to qualify for SSI benefits.

Citizens and nationals are generally eligible for SSI benefits, but the SSA does pay benefits to certain other categories of people lawfully here in the US. For example, people granted asylum, refugees and victims of human trafficking may also be eligible for financial assistance through SSI benefits.

Do you receive SSI benefits? How was your experience with applying for the benefits?

Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers



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