Navigating the world of benefits can be a confusing venture. With so many rules and regulations, it can be hard to determine if you’re eligible without tracing down years of information. For those who are looking for the help of federal benefits, Supplemental Security Income offers an easy-to-understand eligibility framework.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal income program funded by general taxes, intended to help those who would not otherwise be able to afford basic needs. Those who qualify receive a monthly cash benefit. The amount may depend on the state, as some states may supplement the payment.
Let’s learn more about Supplemental Security Income and whether or not you are eligible for SSI benefits.
How do I determine my SSI eligibility?
Those who are trying to receive SSI benefits must fit into one of three categories:
- Aged. For the purposes of Supplemental Security Income, this refers to anyone who is aged 65 and older.
- Blind. In order to be considered blind, your vision cannot exceed 20/200 in your better eye or your visual field must be 20 degrees or less in your better eye for a period of at least 12 months.
- Disabled. The definition of disabled differs between persons who are below and above 18 years old. For those under 18, it requires that your disability result in severe and marked functional limitations. If you are over 18, you must be unable to perform any substantial gainful activity (full time work). Regardless of age, these conditions must either result in death or have lasted or be expected to last for at least 12 months.
Once it is determined that you fit into one of these three criteria, the Social Security Administration will then consider your income and resources.
- Your income includes money you earn from work, social security benefits, workers’ compensation and gifts of food or shelter.
- Your resources include any cash, bank accounts, vehicles, personal property or anything that can be sold for cash. The Social Security Administration caps allowable resources at $2,000 worth for a single person and $3,000 for a couple.
What is the difference between SSI and SSDI?
Though the two sound similar, Social Security Disability Income and Supplemental Security Income have several important distinctions that should be noted.
- SSI is based on economic need. As long as you are aged, blind or disabled and have highly limited income and resources, you may be eligible for SSI. There is no other action you must take to become eligible.
- SSDI is based on how much you have worked. In order to receive SSDI benefits, you will need to have worked and paid Social Security taxes to the government in at least five of the ten years prior to becoming unable to work fulltime. These benefits are also only available to the blind and disabled — your age does not play as big of a role in this benefit.
It is also possible that you may be eligible for both SSI and SSDI benefits. If you have worked enough in the past while still making below the income cap for SSI, you might make a concurrent claim. This can help to maximize your monthly benefits and provide you with the money you need to sustain your life.
Do you know if you are eligible for Social Security Disability benefits?
For assistance with your benefits, contact Reynolds & Gold. We will walk you through the process of receiving benefits and help you to become approved.