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Eligibility for SSI
The Social Security Administration offers two main disability programs. The larger and more comprehensive one is SSD. The other is Supplemental Security Income, or SSI.
SSI assumes a whole different set of circumstances from SSD in terms of eligibility. The program is designed to help the extremely poor and needy, including folks who have never been able to work. This means that we can forget about insurance, DLI and credits of coverage. The only money issue that matters for SSI is how much (or how little) you have. This is what we call an “asset limitation.”
The terms “assets” basically means income and resources. In other words, assets are either money itself or anything that can be turned into money. Social Security has a long list of items that they consider to be assets. They also have a rule for how much is too much. Let’s take a quick look.
Your earned income in your salary and your wage. Your unearned income includes annuities, pensions, dividends, bank interest and other kind of support that can be used either as or toward the purchase of food, clothing or shelter. Resources are those things you own that can be readily turned into cash, food, clothing or shelter. Your home and your car (if you use it for doctor’s visits) are not included.
As with most rules, there are exceptions. It depends on where you live, with whom you live, how many children you have, and so on. The quick rule of thumb here is that if you have more than $2,000 in assets, you will probably not be eligible for SSI. Remember the income your husband or wife earns counts in deciding if you are eligible.
SSI payments vary from state to state. Payments are based on what your assets are and what the cost of living is in your state. Some states add money to the amount the federal government contributes; most conservative or southern states do not. Generally, they are less than $600 per month. Also, with SSI you will be eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid is a health insurance program that will help you out with some doctors and hospitals. Generally, it is more likely to be accepted by hospitals and clinics than by private physicians since the payments to doctors are so low.
One last thing about SSI eligibility. Many people who qualify for SSI also qualify for welfare from their state. It is important that you know the relationship between these two programs. Believe it or not, your state is always looking for ways to get money. This includes getting paid back for the time you spend on welfare. As a result, the state sees a great opportunity to collect from the federal government when you start receiving SSI. Instead of your Initial SSI money going directly to you, it often goes to the state as a payback. This may seem unfair at first, but the state sees it as legitimate. For you, the bottom line is that you must expect and anticipate that payback ahead of time.
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