Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based program that only provides benefits to low-income people who are disabled, blind, or over the age of 65. If you do not have limited resources, then you will not qualify for this program, even if you are disabled, blind, or over the age of 65.
To calculate monthly SSI benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) starts with the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR), which is $783 for a single person and $1,175 for a couple in 2020. Then, the SSA will subtract an individual’s or couple’s monthly income from the FBR. The amount that is left over is the amount of benefits an SSI recipient will receive on a monthly basis.
Requirements for SSI Benefits
As noted above, to qualify for SSI benefits, you must be over the age of 65, disabled, or blind. You may also be eligible if you are under 65 with a qualifying disability that prevents you from working. Your condition constitutes a “qualifying disability” according to the SSA if it:
- Prevents you from working at a job you’ve held in the past.
- Prevents you from getting another job for which you are qualified.
- Is expected to last more than a year or result in death.
The SSA website lists certain conditions that are automatically considered to be a qualifying disability. If your condition is not on this list, then a claims examiner will review your claim to determine if you qualify.
Income Impact on Eligibility
The SSI program is for low-income people who are unable to work but need help in paying for their daily necessities. Therefore, income is a determining factor in eligibility for SSI benefits. The SSA sets a yearly income limit based on the federal benefit rate (FBR), which is $9,396 for a single person ($783/month) and $14,100 ($1,175/month) for a couple in 2020.
However, in determining your monthly income, the SSA only counts a portion of your income when determining if your income is over the allowable limit. Countable income includes:
- Social Security, pensions, state disability payments, veteran’s benefits, unemployment benefits, interest income, alimony, and child support
- “In-kind” income such as free rent or food from a nongovernmental source
- Income earned by someone in your household
The SSA also considers an applicant’s total resources -- money or items you own that can be turned into cash -- when establishing a resource limit for SSI benefits. Those items considered in determining resource limits include:
- Bank accounts
- Oil royalties
- Vehicles other than the one you drive
- Property other than your primary residence
The SSA excludes the following types of income from the SSI income limit:
- $20 per month of income other than wages
- $65 per month of wages and one-half of wages over $65
- Wages that go toward special impairment-related work expenses for disabled or blind persons
- The first $30 of infrequent or irregularly received earned income in a quarter
- The first $60 of infrequent or irregularly received unearned income in a quarter
- Medical care
- Reimbursement of expenses from a social services agency
- Food stamps, and
- Housing or home energy assistance.
To determine if you qualify for SSI or SSDI benefits, contact one of our experienced attorneys today. We will learn more about your current situation and then go over all of your different options. Please call Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with an experienced attorney.