What is SSI

People with restricted access to income or resources can find it hard to manage daily living costs. The federal government knows that there are individuals that are going through this tough situation. Because of this, the government designed the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. There are people who do not know about this opportunity or how it can benefit them. This article hopes to highlight how those who are struggling can gain from this program.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI): What is it?

The first thing you should know about this federal program is that general taxes fund it. The program itself is available through the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSI can offer monthly payments to help afford basic needs. This includes housing, groceries, clothing, and so on.

Who is Eligible for SSI?

Fortunately, there is no ban on anyone applying for SSI. The greatest advantage of SSI is that applications do not cost a thing. This means that you can find out if you qualify or not without spending a penny. The support program can only offer assistance to people who:

  • Have little access to income or resources
  • Are blind, at least the age of 65, or have a disability
  • Have an eligible citizenship status

Sometimes, an individual can automatically be eligible for SSI benefits, in the case that they already have support from another program. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or retirement benefits are some of the programs that can help someone automatically qualify. 

The most popular requirements to qualify are mentioned above, but there are other eligibility requirements to consider. This includes the following:

  • Having an eligible status of residency
  • Not leaving the country for one full month or 30 consecutive days, or more
  • Meeting other eligibility criteria

Who are Ineligible Individuals?

There might be some situations where people are disqualified from SSI. This includes those that are:

  • In jail/prison
  • Going through an unsatisfied crime/arrest warrant
  • Staying in a public institution
  • Give resources up

What Does the Term “Disabled” Refer to?

When it comes to qualifying or not, we should make something very clear. When it comes to the disability eligibility of this program, there are some criteria to keep in mind. The SSA considers a disability as a mental or physical impairment that a medical provider can determine. The disability must meet the following conditions, or at least one:

  • Where they cannot perform any substantial gainful activity
  • That could lead to death
  • That could expect to last for over 12 months or has lasted for over 12 months

The Amount You Can Get from SSI 

How much you can receive will be based on your current situation. There are maximum restrictions to receiving SSI benefits. The maximum restrictions for 2024 are:

  • $943 for a Single Person
  • $1,415 for a Couple

Why are Resource Restrictions Important?

Resources are items you own and they are crucial to finding out whether you qualify or not. Some popular resources include:

  • Bank Accounts
  • Stocks
  • U.S. Savings Bonds
  • Cash
  • Land
  • Life Insurance
  • Mutual Funds
  • Personal Property and Vehicles
  • Anything you currently own that you can transform into cash and use for housing or groceries

That is why resource restrictions exist. For 2022, these restrictions include:

  • $2,000 for Individuals
  • $3,000 for a Couple

Fortunately, some resources are not included in how much you own, such as:

  • Where you currently live and the land it is on
  • One vehicle that you use for transportation 
  • Personal items and household goods
  • Life insurance policies that are lower than $1,500
  • You or your family’s burial space

Are Income Limits Important for Eligibility?

Another factor in SSI eligibility is your income. Applicants need to meet income restrictions. $1,913 per month is the income restriction for a single person. Furthermore, $2,827 per month is the income restriction for a couple. The amounts above are the income restrictions for 2023, but they can change! There are sources of income that the SSA does not include, which are the following:

  • The first $20 of wages in a month that an applicant earned
  • Benefit amounts an applicant received from the SNAP
  • Assistance for home energy benefits
  • Tax refunds from wages
  • Inconsistent and small income amounts
  • Irregular or infrequent small amounts of income 
  • Grants for educational purposes

This is why it is crucial to remember that SSI only considers “countable income.” They do not consider your gross income.

Applying for SSI 

Fortunately, you can apply in different ways like on the phone or online. If you are interested in applying on the phone, you can make a call at 1-800-772-1213 (or TTY 1-800-325-0778 if you have trouble hearing or if you are deaf). Additionally, people who have trouble hearing or are deaf can contact 1-800-772-1213. This number can be used for telecommunications relay services (TRS).

As for applying online, you can let the SSA know that you are interested in applying for SSI. Usually, the application process takes 10 minutes. You will offer some information about your personal life such as your:

  • Name
  • When You Were Born
  • Social Security Number
  • Address for Mailing
  • Contact Information 

Once you are done applying online, someone from the SSA will make an appointment with you to help you with applying. They will notify you when the appointment is through email or mail from seven to 14 days (typically). Also, there are situations when someone from the SSA calls you to make an appointment. You should try to apply as soon as possible to get benefits.

The Bottom Line

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a helpful support option. This program works on offering payments each month to eligible people. To be eligible, you need to lack access to income and resources and be either at least the age of 65, blind, or have an eligible disability. If you want to know more, you can get in touch with the SSA. If you want to start applying,  you can contact them on the phone or online. This program could help you with your current situation and even improve it!