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Do I qualify for Social Security Income?
What is SSI?
SSI is Social Security Income. SSI makes monthly payments to people who have low income and few resources and are:
•Age 65 or older;
Disabled or blind children also can receive SSI. The basic SSI amount is the same nationwide. However, many states add money to the basic benefit.
Whether you can receive SSI depends on your income and resources (the things you own).
What Income qualifies me to receive SSI?
Income is money you receive such as wages, Social Security benefits and pensions. Income also includes such things as food, clothing or shelter. The amount of income you can receive each month and still get SSI depends partly on where you live.
Social Security does not count all of your income when SSA decides whether you qualify for SSI. For example, SSA does not count:
•The first $20 a month of most income you receive;
•The first $65 a month you earn from working and half the amount over $65;
•Shelter you get from private nonprofit organizations; and
•Most home energy assistance.
If you are married, SSA also includes part of your spouse’s income and resources when deciding whether you qualify for SSI. If you are younger than age 18, SSA includes part of your parents’ income and resources. And, if you are a sponsored noncitizen, SSA also may include your sponsor’s income and resources.
If you are a student, some of the wages or scholarships you receive may not count.
If you are disabled but work, Social Security does not count wages you use to pay for items or services that help you to work. For example, if you need a wheelchair, the wages you use to pay for the wheelchair do not count as income when SSA decides whether you qualify for SSI.
Also, Social Security does not count any wages a blind person uses for work expenses. For example, if a blind person uses wages to pay for transportation to and from work, the wages used to pay the transportation cost are not counted as income.
If you are disabled or blind, some of the income you use (or save) for training or to buy things you need to work may not count.
What resources does SSA consider in determining my SSI eligibility
Resources that SSA count in deciding whether you qualify for SSI include real estate, bank accounts, cash, stocks and bonds.
You may be able to get SSI if your resources are worth no more than $2,000. A couple may be able to get SSI if they have resources worth no more than $3,000. If you own property that you are trying to sell, you may be able to get SSI while trying to sell it.
Social Security does not count everything you own in deciding whether you have too many resources to qualify for SSI. For example, SSA do not count:
•The home you live in and the land it is on;
•Life insurance policies with a face value of $1,500 or less;
•Your car (usually);
•Burial plots for you and members of your immediate family; and
Up to $1,500 in burial funds for you and up to $1,500 in burial funds for your spouse.
What other rules must I meet
To get SSI, you must live in the U.S. In some cases, noncitizen residents can qualify for SSI.
If you are eligible for Social Security or other benefits, you should apply for them. You can get SSI and other benefits if you are eligible for both.
If you live in certain types of institutions, you may get SSI.
If you live in a city or county rest home, halfway house or other public institution, you usually cannot get SSI. But there are some exceptions.
If you live in a publicly operated community residence that serves no more than 16 people, you may get SSI.
If you live in a public institution mainly to attend approved educational or job training to help you get a job, you may get SSI.
If you live in a public emergency shelter for the homeless, you may get SSI.
What information shall I bring to the interview?
•Your Social Security card or a record of your Social Security number;
•Your birth certificate or other proof of your age;
•Information about the home where you live, such as your mortgage or your lease and landlord’s name;
•Payroll slips, bank books, insurance policies, burial fund records and other information about your income and the things you own;
•The names, addresses and telephone numbers of doctors, hospitals and clinics that you have been to, if you are applying for SSI because you are disabled or blind;
•Proof of U.S. citizenship or eligible noncitizen status.
You also should bring your checkbook or other papers that show your bank, credit union or savings and loan account number so SSA can have your benefits deposited directly into your account. Direct deposit protects benefits from loss, theft and mail delay. The money is always on time and ready to use without making a trip to the bank
Can I work while receiving SSI?
If you work, there are special rules to help you. You may be able to keep getting SSI payments while you work. As you earn more money, your SSI payments may be reduced or stopped, but you may be able to keep your Medicaid coverage.
You also may be able to set aside some money for a work goal or to go to school. In this case, the money you set aside will not reduce the amount of your SSI.
Blind or disabled people who apply for SSI may get free special services to help them work. These services may include counseling, job training and help in finding work.
Can I receive healthcare benefits?
When you get SSI, you also may get Medicaid which helps pay doctor and hospital bills. Your local welfare or medical assistance office can give you information about Medicaid.
If you get Medicare and have low income and few resources, your state may pay your Medicare premiums and, in some cases, other Medicare expenses such as deductibles and coinsurance. Only your state can decide if you qualify.
Can I receive social security benefits in addition to SSI?
If you have worked and paid into Social Security long enough, you also may be eligible for Social Security benefits while you are receiving SSI. Retirement benefits can be paid to people age 62 or older and their families. Disability benefits go to people with disabilities and their families. Survivors benefits are paid to the families of workers who have died.
How much money can I expect to get from SSI?
The amount of your benefit depends on where you live. The basic SSI check is the same nationwide. Effective January 2005, the SSI payment for an eligible individual is $579 per month and $869 per month for an eligible couple. For January 2004, the SSI payment for an eligible individual was $564 per month and $846 per month for an eligible couple. However, many states add money to the basic check.
Following is a list of all States that supplement the basic SSI
If you get SSI, you also may be able to get other help from your state or county. For example, you may be able to get Medicaid, food stamps, or some other social services. For information about all the services available in your community, call your local social services department or public welfare office