Supplemental Security Income SSI is a government benefit that is available to people who are either disabled, blind or over age 65 and who meet certain income requirements. Unlike the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, people who receive Supplemental Security Income SSI do not have to have an illness or injury that is expected to last longer than one year. Another difference is that the SSI program is not funded by social security taxes. Therefore, recipients do not have to have paid into social security to benefit from SSI.
How Eligibility for SSI is Determined
The SSI program is intended for people with very low income to help them pay for food, clothing, shelter and other basic necessities. As of 2011, disabled applicants could earn a maximum income of $1,000 a month to be eligible for SSI benefits. People who apply for SSI benefits must list all sources of income. This includes wages earned, additional public benefits, insurance payments, dividends and other sources. For the purposes of determining eligibility, the SSI office does not include the first $65 earned in a calendar month. It also does not include half of the wages the applicant earns after the first $65. When considering unearned income sources, the SSI program does not include food stamps or the first $20 received in a calendar month.
SSI Also Considers Your Assets
In addition to having a low income, applicants must also have few resources in order to qualify for SSI benefits. The social security administration considers resources to be actual cash, checking and savings accounts, stocks, bonds and real estate. Married applicants must also include the income and personal assets of their spouse. Those who still live at home with their parents must report the total income of the entire household. The asset limit in order to qualify for SSI is $2,000 for a single person and $3,000 for someone who is married. These asset limits are current as of 2011.
What Applicants Can Do if Their SSI Application is Denied
People who are denied for SSI benefits have the right to appeal the decision within 60 days of receiving the original denial letter. This is known as the reconsideration phase of a SSI claim. Many people who are actually eligible to receive SSI are turned down for minor errors on the application form or for not including all of the information that the social security administration requested.
In order to increase their chance of being approved, people who have been denied SSI benefits may want to consider working with a Chicago social security lawyer. The lawyer can work with the applicant to ensure that his or her application is completed correctly. If the person is again turned down for SSI benefits, there are three additional steps available after the initial reconsideration. These include a hearing by an administrative law judge, a review by the appeals court and a federal court review. Obtaining the services of a lawyer significantly improves the applicant’s chances of being approved at all levels of appeal.