Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Explained

SSISupplemental Security Income, commonly known as SSI, is a needs-based program that provides a monthly check to persons who are blind, over age-65, or have a disability haven’t worked enough in the recent years to qualify for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance).

Applying for Supplemental Security Income is similar to filing for SSDI, however SSI is a federal welfare program, so the income and resources available to the applicant effects eligibility.

The monthly payment amount for the SSI program is based on the “federal benefit rate” (FBR). In 2015, the FBR is $733 per month for individuals and $1,100 for couples. Most states provide a supplement which is added to the federal benefit.

To qualify for SSI, your countable monthly income cannot exceed the FBR, plus the state supplement. When calculating an applicant’s income SSA applies a $20.00 general income disregard.

Here in New York State the supplement for an individual living alone in their own household is $87.00 which brings the total SSI payment to $820.00. Including the income disregard an individual living alone in their own household can have $829.00 per month in income and qualify for an SSI payment.

The supplement for an individual living with others is $23.00 which brings the total SSI payment to $756.00. Including the income disregard an individual living with others can have $775.00 per month in income and qualify for an SSI payment.

Note: an SSI payment of $1.00 per month seems insignificant but it qualifies the applicant for Medicaid which covers most health care needs.

An SSI applicant or a current SSI recipient who is single cannot have more than $2,000 in resources. An SSI applicant or recipient who is married cannot have more than $3,000 in resources.

SSA counts the following as resources:

Cash
Money in a checking or savings account
Cash value in life insurance policies (over $1,500)
stocks and bonds
Household goods and personal effects (over $2,000)
Motor vehices (except for one), and
Real estate (other than the home in which a claimant resides).

SSI claimants who exceed the income or resource limits are ineligible for benefits, no matter how serious their disabling condition(s) are. Their claim will be denied.

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