Who is Eligible for SSI?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a form of federal assistance that provides aid to people who:

  • Disabled
  • Blind
  • Over Age 65

AND, who:

  • Have limited income;
  • Have limited resources;
  • Are U.S. citizens, nationals or other qualified aliens;
  • Are not confined to an institution, such as a prison or hospital;
  • Meet certain other requirements.

In some cases, children who are blind or disabled and whose parents have little income or resources may also be eligible for SSI benefits. The basic SSI amount available is the same nationally, although many states – Massachusetts included – offer supplemental assistance. Here, it’s known as the Massachusetts State Supplement Program (SSP).

Boston SSI Attorneys at Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers are compassionate, knowledgeable and prepared to help guide you through the system. Our goal is to ensure you receive all the benefits to which you are rightly entitled.

SSI serves to help individuals obtain access to food, clothing shelter and other basic needs.

SSI Disability

Eligibility for SSI depends on a claimant’s disability, as well as income and resources (i.e., the things he or she owns).

  • “Aged” – Means over the age of 65.
  • “Blind” – Means having a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye, even with a corrective lens, OR having a visual field limitation in the better eye of less than 20 degrees.
  • “Disabled” - Means different things for adults and children.

Children – defined as anyone under the age of 18 – are deemed “disabled” for SSI purposes if they suffer a physical or mental condition that:

  • Causes severe and marked limitations on function;
  • Results in a likelihood of death;
  • Extends for at least a year or more.

Adults – anyone over the age of 18 – may be deemed “disabled” for SSI purposes if they suffer a mental or physical condition that:

  • Prevents individual from engaging in substantial gainful activity;
  • Is terminal;
  • Goes on for a year or longer.

In cases where a person’s condition is so severe, they would easily meet the disability standards, the SSA workers to deliver benefits quickly through the Compassionate Allowances program. As of 2015, there were 200 conditions listed that meet the criteria.

If disability can be established, the SSA will then analyze a person’s income and resources to determine the extent of financial need.

SSI Income

The government has a vested interest in making sure there is valid financial need before paying benefits. That means there needs to be an accurate accounting of resources and income available to the claimant. However, not everything is factored into the formula.

The types of countable income for SSI purposes includes:

  • Earned Income. These are a person’s wages, royalties and sheltered workshop payments.
  • Unearned Income. These are all money received that isn’t earned. It includes state disability payments, unemployment benefits, Social Security benefits and funds contributed by relatives or friends.
  • In-Kind Income. This is shelter or food received for free or less than fair market value.
  • Deemed Income. This is money earned by a claimant’s spouse or live-in parents or citizenship sponsor.

Usually, the higher the income, the less one can receive through SSI. And, if one’s income is over the federal limit, claimant won’t be eligible for SSI. However, there is income that isn’t tallied, and that includes (but isn’t limited to):

  • Income tax refunds;
  • Value of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program);
  • Scholarships, gifts, grants or fellowships given for educational expenses, such as tuition;
  • Loans that must be repaid;
  • Small amounts of income that are received with no frequency or regularity;
  • Earnings of up to $7,180 for students under age 22;
  • Money paid by someone else for claimant expenses other than shelter or food;
  • Disaster relief;
  • Up to $2,000 in compensation for participation in clinical trials.

In order to determine benefits, SSI will subtract claimant’s countable income from the federal benefit rate.

SSI Resources

Resources are also considered part of the equation. These can be things like:

  • Cash;
  • Vehicles;
  • Land;
  • Life insurance;
  • Personal property;
  • Bank accounts or stocks;
  • “Deemed resources” (a portion that is “deemed” to belong to someone other than applicant).

The resource component of SSI doesn’t count things like household goods and personal effects, the home in which you live and the land on which that home is situated, life insurance policies of $1,500 or less, burial funds, property essential to self-support, retroactive SSI or other benefits for up to nine months. A complete list is available here.

Generally, an individual can have no more than $2,000 in assets (or $3,000 per couple) and a very limited income in order to qualify.

If you think you may be eligible for SSI benefits and want more information about how we can help, contact our offices today.

Contact the Boston SSDI Attorneys at Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers by calling 1-(617) 777-7777 for a free consultation.

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