Although the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) administers Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits, SSI benefits differ from what we normally think of as Social Security benefits. SSI benefits do not require a work history; both Social Security retirement and disability benefits require Americans to have paid into the system. As a result, SSI benefits come from the Treasury Department’s general funds and not the Social Security trust fund. Despite the different sources of funds, SSI benefits have the same aim as retirement and disability benefits – provide financial support to older Americans or those with severe disabilities.
SSI benefits are available for three groups of people:
- Those aged 65 or older
- The blind
- The disabled
Although there are no work requirements for SSI benefits, there is an income requirement, as the benefits are intended for older or disabled Americans with limited means. The SSA takes several different kinds of income into consideration when determining your eligibility for SSI benefits. Income that counts includes the following:
- Money that is earned like wages, royalties or self-employment business
- Benefits like Social Security benefits, pension payments, disability payments and unemployment benefits
- Food or shelter that you receive for free or at a discount to its true value
- What the SSA refers to as “deemed income,” which is money from your spouse or parents that partially contributes to your well being
The SSA then takes your total monthly income (less any money that does not count) and uses that figure (called your “countable income”) to determine how much your SSI benefits will be. In 2012, SSI rates are $698 for an individual and $1,048 for an individual with an eligible spouse. The SSA then reduces your SSI amount by the amount of your countable income. So, for example, if your countable income each month is $200 and you are eligible for SSI benefits, you would receive $698 minus $200 in SSI benefits, or $498 each month.
Do you receive SSI benefits? What factors impact the amount of assistance you are eligible for?
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers