Supplemental Security Income Demystified

When you’re not able to work and make ends meet, there is no need to worry because there is a safety net for you to fall on.  Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal financial support program that gives sustenance to those who are not able to keep a job due to a medical condition. It has a history of helping many Americans get by and we’re going to show you how to qualify for it.

Eligibility

To get SSI benefits, there are a number of conditions that need to be satisfied including: (1) that you have a medical condition that hinders or totally stops you from having or keeping a job, (2) that you suffer from blindness (either partially or totally) (3) the minimum age is 65.

The applicant must meet one of these three requirements for eligibility to apply for SSI. It is important to note that the amount of financial assistance will be determined on an individual basis depending on the level of urgency.  Additionally, you may be able to secure more funds depending on where you live and which state you reside in. There are states that invest more and have increased financial commitments to SSI benefits. Due to this fact, you have the opportunity to get more from state government funding than from the federal funds potentially. Your specific situation can determine the amount of  funds you will receive. Other factors like who lives with you and how many dependents you have also affect your eligibility.

How Much Will You Get?

Now, to the important question, which is how much is Uncle Sam willing to give you in SSI benefits? The assessment process takes time. Social security will need to look at a multitude of factors like citizenship status, income, assets, dependents, marital status, and more. Those involved in the assessment process will also have to know how much money is in your bank account, in addition to other financial assets including stocks and bonds.

Applying to SSI also involves completing the application for social security as well. That means these applications go hand in hand. If there are other federal or state welfare packages that may be of interest to you, you do have the right to apply to them. Qualifying for SSI will also make you eligible to receive Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). You have a good chance of getting both.

Application Process

The first place you need to go to start applying is the Social Security Administration website, where you find all information and forms that you need to complete. You could increase your chances of eligibility when you seek legal assistance like hiring a lawyer. Most importantly, try to complete the application process promptly as other candidates could beat you to the benefits. These application forms are free so it will not hurt to send them in!

Coronavirus and Your SSI

As COVID-19 continues to impact millions of Americans, the government has aimed to provide relief through acts like the CARES Act. The CARES Act provides economic impact payments (EIPs) to qualifying individuals. However, it can be difficult understanding what assistance you will be receiving if you are currently receiving SSI. Luckily, it may not be as hard to figure out as you may think.

It is important to know that SSI recipients are eligible to receive their EIPS. However, if they are claimed as dependent on a taxpayer’s return, then they cannot receive their EIPS. The payment that you could receive does not count as a source of additional income. If you are an SSI beneficiary that has a representative payee, then the EIP will be issued to your payee. However, even though the EIP will be issued to the payee, there will be a denotation of the beneficiary name. There are also instances where the payee can request to provide additional assistance outside of the typical role of a representative payee.

Consolidated Appropriations Act

All of this information pertains to the first round of EIPs that the government approved with the CARES Act. Since then, congress has approved another coronavirus relief package called the Consolidated Appropriations Act. Payments will be issued using either the electronic payment method or physical address associated with the taxes that were filed.

If you are an SSI recipient yet did not file a tax return, then the payment will be issued based on the latest information provided by the social security administration (SSA). This act is essentially the same as the previous act in how EIPs will be provided to SSI recipients. If you have any questions or need additional information there are free online resources on the SSA website that can help!

It can be extremely stressful to deal with a medical condition and your SSI during a pandemic. Luckily, your SSI status does not affect your availability to receive EIPs issued through relief acts. If you have any questions you should contact the SSA which can provide you with all of the details and information you may need. You can also utilize free online resources if you do not wish to contact the SSA office.

Commonly Asked Questions

What is the Difference Between Social Security Benefits and Supplemental Security Income?

Financing is the biggest difference between these assistance options. For the most part, employment taxes fund Social Security Benefits. On the other hand, commonplace taxes finance Supplemental Security Income. These programs work very similarly but one of the key distinctions is their financing.

Will Marriage Affect My Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Yes! Marriage will affect your SSI. Your spouse’s income and/or resources may change your benefit. If both you and your spouse receive SSI then that’s a different story. Instead, your benefit will update to a couple’s rate instead of staying at an individual rate.

Can My Income Determine My SSI?

Your income alone cannot determine your SSI. However, it is definitely a huge factor. Your income plays a role in determining your eligibility amongst other criteria.

Do I Have to Report My Work Wages if I am an SSI Recipient?

It may be tempting to lie on your SSI application. However, you want to be sure that you are completely honest. It is required by law that you report your wages if you are an SSI recipient.

What are Resources in Regards to SSI?

According to the federal Social Security website, resources can be anything from:

  • Bank Accounts
  • Cash
  • Land
  • Life Insurance
  • Savings Bonds
  • Stocks
  • Types of Property like Personal Property
  • Vehicles
  • Any Deemed Resources

What Resources Do Not Count for SSI?

Just as there are resources that are counted, there are also resources that are not. Resources that are not counted for SSI include:

  • Homes
  • The Land That Your Home is On
  • A Vehicle (Up to 1)
  • Household Goods
  • Personal Belongings (Like a Wedding Ring)
  • Life Insurance Policies Worth Up to $1,500
  • Burial Spaces for Immediate Family
  • Burial Funds Up to $1,500
  • Money or Property Set Aside Under the Plan to Achieve Self Support (PASS)
  • Up to $100,000 in Funds from an Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Account
  • Retroactive SSI or Social Security Benefits From Up to 9 Months
  • Money in an Individual Development Account (IDA)
  • Types of Assistance like Home Energy Assistance or Maintenance Assistance.
  • Educational Expenses from a Grant, Scholarship, or Fellowship from Up to 9 Months After Getting Them
  • Cash for Social Services from Up to One Month From Receipt
  • Cash for Medical Expenses from Up to One Month From Receipt
  • Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs)
  • Local Assistance Payments From Up to One Year
  • State Assistance Payments From Up to One Year
  • Victim’s Assistance From Up to 9 Months
  • Earned Income Tax Credits From Up to 9 Months
  • Disabled or Blind Children Accounts
  • Disaster Relief Assistance
  • Some Trusts

What are Deemed Resources?

According to the list above, deemed resources are considered resources when dealing with SSI. However, most people don’t know what deemed resources even are. Sometimes social security will “deem” a chunk of the resources of an individual in relation to the SSI recipient. Individuals that may have a portion of resources deemed may include a:

  • Parent
  • Parent’s Spouse
  • Spouse
  • Sponsor of an Alien
  • Sponsor’s Spouse

Why is it Important to Understand Resources When Dealing with SSI?

Resources are another determining factor of SSI eligibility. For example, if your total counted resources exceed the limit that was set for you, then you will not receive your SSI for that month. You can also choose to sell resources if you are over your limit. There are ways you can use resources when ensuring that you are getting the assistance that you need with SSI.

What Should I Do if I Want to Sell My Resources?

Selling your resources is a viable option when it comes to resource management. Once you sell your resource, you will have to pay back the SSI benefits you received during that time frame. These are referred to as “conditional benefits.” You will also be required to sign the “Agreement to Sell Property” form. Once you submit the documentation, the social security office will need to approve it. For additional information you should contact your local social security office.

Is There a Resource Limit?

Yes. There is a limit for what can be considered a countable resource. Individuals have a limit of $2,000 while couples have a limit of $3,000.

What are the Types of SSI Income?

There are four main types of income:

  • Earned Income
  • Unearned Income
  • In-Kind Income
  • Deemed Income

Earned income is essentially any money you earn. That can be from any earnings of employment, specified royalties, sheltered workshop payments, and honoraria (payments).

Unearned income is the opposite. This source of income is not earned. Forms of this type of income are Social Security benefits, unemployment benefits, State disability payments, interest income, and cash gifts.

In-Kind Income is a type of income that can be both earned and unearned. However, this type of income is not a payment per say. Instead, it is food, shelter, or both that a person can get for free or for less than the market value price.

Deemed Income is not your income. Instead, it is the income of another individual like a spouse, parent, or sponsor.

Are There Types of Income That Do Not Count Towards SSI?

Yes there are. Just like resources, there is a list of incomes that will not count for SSI. These forms of income include:

  • Specified Income Guidelines
  • The Value of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Received
  • Income Tax Refunds
  • Assistance Income
  • Random Sources of Income That are Irregular and/or Infrequent
  • Compensation Guidelines

Why Does SSI Need to Know My Living Arrangement?

This is a determining factor in deciding eligibility for SSI. Typically the social security office is looking to see whether you:

  • Live on your own in a house, apartment, mobile home, etc.
  • Stay at someone else’s house.
  • Reside in a group home or care facility.
  • Live in a hospital or nursing home.

Social security could reduce SSI benefits for individuals due to their living arrangements. Living situations where social security will reduce SSI benefits include when you:

  • Are living in someone else’s household and do not pay an equal portion of expenses.
  • Live alone but someone else takes care of the living expenses like rent, utilities, food, etc.
  • Stay in a hospital or nursing home for the entire month and Medicaid pays for a majority of the cost of your care.

What If I am Homeless?

Social security will still be able to determine your eligibility even if you do not have a current living situation.