Who Is Eligible For SSI? (Supplemental Security Income)

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Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program that provides benefit payments to American residents in need of financial support. Run by the Social Security Administration and funded by the United States Treasury, it provides assistance to disabled persons and children with restricted access to funds.

The SSI covers blind or disabled individuals who are over 65 years, a lawful resident of the US, and those who have limited assets and income.

If you think you or a family member may qualify, read through this article to find out more about SSI vs SSDI, among other things, before deciding to file your application.

But, first, let’s start with the basics.

What Is SSI?

Who Is Eligible For SSI_ (Supplemental Security Income) 1

Anyone who fits into the three categories mentioned earlier, may be eligible for SSI assistance. But, there are key elements: restricted income and assets. So, how does the government qualify “limited” income and assets?

As of the early part of 2021, the SSA earmarks the monthly income at $794 for individuals and $1,191 for a couple living together.

Income is referred to as any resource, whether in cash or in-kind, that covers food and shelter needs. It can be further classified into the following:

  • Earned Income – which refers to monetary resources in exchange for the work rendered. It can be salary, honoraria, or allowances received
  • Unearned Income – covers the other types of benefits received from the state or federal government
  • In-Kind Income – as its name suggests is either free food, shelter, or both.
  • Deemed Income- covers the percentage of your partner’s income

All of these income types are considered by the SSA to come up with your benefit amount. In some cases, it may cause you to receive a reduced amount or may even disqualify you from getting a subsidy.

Assets, meanwhile, cover cash or savings, investments in stocks, and property. Excluded are vehicles that provide main transportation, your home, and other similar items. An applicant shouldn’t have more than $2,000, while a couple mustn’t have $3,000 to qualify.

These are general rules, though, and the Social Security will need to assess applications on a case-by-case basis. Some states may offer additional SSI payments, but these may be subject to additional requirements or conditions.

Who Is Qualified to Receive Supplemental Security Income?

What Is SSI

To be eligible for the program, the SSI accepts applications from the following:

  • Persons who are 65 years or older: this may help seniors boost their retirement income
  • Blind or disabled: but not confined to a government-run institution
  • With limited income and resources: as mentioned above
  • A U.S citizen or national: a person residing in any of the states and someone who hasn’t been out of the country for more than 30 consecutive days
  • An individual who belongs to certain categories of aliens: except for those who have deportation warrants

An applicant is required to authorize the SSA to contact and request for financial institutions to provide information about the eligible individual.

How About Social Security Disability Insurance? 

Apart from SSI, an applicant is allowed to apply for other Social Security benefits. For instance, persons with disability may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance, a benefit payment for employees who’ve contributed to the system by working for, at least, five years.

Unlike SSI, though, SSDI is benefits-based and not needs-based, as SSI is. A person with disability can apply for both if he or she qualifies as low-income individual and has contributed to the Social Security. You can learn more about SSI vs SSDI by checking online resources.

What Does Childhood Disability Mean?

Per SSA guidelines, persons below 18 years old are considered disabled if they have a medically-declared physical and mental impairment, that includes emotional and learning conditions. Further, the handicap should have resulted severe functional restrictions and may lead to death.

Any disability that has lasted or is expected to carry on for a considerable period, for instance, more than one year, is also considered a disability.

What Does Adult Disability Mean?

For individuals over 18 years old, the same general description for disability applies, with slightly different additional considerations.

For instance, the disability should have resulted in the suspension of any substantial gainful activity, caused death, or has lasted or is expected to go on continuously for, at least, one year.

Compassionate Allowances

The SSA is quite lenient in the identification of disabilities. In some cases, it’s not restricted to blindness, mental, and learning restrictions.

In an effort to reduce waiting times and shorten the processing period, the SSA allows disabilities to cover serious conditions that result in severe physical and mental limitations.

The SSA can identify disabilities in individuals facing serious functional disruptions caused by specific types of cancers, brain disorders, and rare congenital conditions.

What Is Blindness?

Blindness, according to SSA, is defined as the condition of a person who has a central visual acuity of 10% or less or an individual who has other visual restrictions.

How Is a Citizenship Status Defined?

Persons who are eligible for SSI should meet the following criteria: a U.S citizen or a non-citizen who meets the alien eligibility criteria. Qualified aliens consist of the following, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security:

  1. Those who are legally admitted for Permanent Residence in the U.S.
  2. Persons lawfully granted with conditional entry
  3. Paroled into the U.S. for, at least, one year
  4. A refugee admitted to the U.S.
  5. Individuals granted with an asylum
  6. Persons whose deportation is being withheld
  7. A “Cuban or Haitian entrant”

Persons who are subjected to heavy physical abuse and extreme violence by a family member while in the U.S. are also deemed as qualified aliens as are victims of human trafficking in severe forms, as indicated by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.

Some immigrants with Afghan and Iraqi citizenship may also be eligible for SSI for a limited period of seven years.

What Are the Limitations of SSI?

In spite of the wide coverage, SSI has specific limitations. For instance, it’s not available to residents of other U.S territories such as Puerto Rico, the U.S Virgin Islands, Guam, and the American Samoa.

In Northen Mariana Islands, citizens may be eligible for SSI, but they can’t get supplemental federal payments. Other states that don’t offer additional SSI payments include Arizona, Mississippi, North Dakota, and West Virginia.

The Takeaway

Persons with disability and the elderly are vulnerable categories of persons who need additional assistance from the state and non-government institutions.

To experience relief especially in these trying times, qualified citizens and non-citizens may apply for Supplemental Security Income, especially if they’re suffering from disabilities that restrict their access to an improved quality of life.

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