The Social Security Supplemental Security Income: Eligibility Requirements

Jun 21, 2017 by

Supplemental Security Income (SSI), also known as State Supplementary Payment (SSP), is one of the largest programs of the U.S. Federal government that provide cash benefits to aged, blind, and disabled people who are with little or without income. This cash benefit should help provide for its recipients’ basic needs, which include food, clothing, and shelter. Specifically, SSI is designed for:

  • Disabled adults who have limited income and resources;
  • Disabled children who are younger than age 18 and who have limited income and resources; and,
  • People 65 years old or older who are without disabilities, but who meet the financial limits set under the federal benefit rate (FBR). (The FBR represents both the SSI income limit and the maximum monthly dollar amount paid by the SSI program.)

Last 2016, the FBR monthly income limit was $733 for individuals and $1,100 for couples. Determining eligibility for SSI benefits is not as simple as it seems, though, since the SSA has its own method of computing income limit. Add to this the “state supplement,” which is cash that majority of states in the U.S. (except in eight states which include Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia) add on top of the federal SSI payment – this addition increases the total amount of SSI payment (a beneficiary will receive) and the limit of income.

With regard to disability, the SSA considers a child (anyone below 18) or an adult (those aged 18 and above) disabled if he/she has a medically determinable physical or mental impairment, (including an emotional or learning problem) that:

  • Has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months;
  • Has resulted in severe functional limitations (in the case of children) or in the inability to do any substantial gainful activity (in the case of adults); and,
  • Can be expected to result in death

With regard to “income” and “resources,” SSI defines income as: money earned from work; money received from other sources, such as Social Security benefits, workers compensation, unemployment benefits, the Department of Veterans Affairs, friends or relatives; and free food or shelter. Resources, on the other hand, refers to things personally owned, including:  cash; bank accounts, stocks, U.S. savings bonds; land; vehicles; personal property; life insurance; and anything that could be converted to cash and used for food or shelter.

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