SSI: Five Things You Need to Know

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is one of the two primary programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that provide benefits for people with disabilities. However, even many people who apply for the program do not know much about it and do not know what to expect. Here are five important things you need to know about SSI:

  1. You can get it even if you do not have enough work credits
    • Anyone who has tried to apply for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration may have heard of “work credits,” which are a measurement of the amount of paid work you have done over the course of a year. It is true that, to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you do typically need to meet a minimum number of work credits before you can qualify. However, you do not need any work credits to benefit from SSI, which has separate economic requirements from SSDI.
  2. There is a maximum income threshold
    • To be able to qualify for SSI benefits, you must be below a certain income threshold. For the year 2020, that means you can only qualify if you make less than $783 a month for an individual, or $1,175 for a married couple. You must also own less than $2,000 in assets as an individual, or less than $3,000 in assets as a married couple. If you make more money than that, you will not be able to qualify for SSI, regardless of your disability status. This is because SSI is intended to help those who cannot take care of themselves, and if you make more than that, you are presumed to not need the economic assistance.
  3. Not all income is counted for purposes of SSI eligibility
    • Saying you need to make less than a certain amount, or have less than a certain amount in assets, is somewhat misleading. Many different kinds of income and assets are excluded from those calculations, meaning that figuring out whether you qualify for SSI is not as simple as just adding together everything you own and all the money you make. This is one of many reasons you should consult with an attorney if you intend to apply for SSI benefits, to ensure you have not miscalculated something.
  4. You can still get other government benefits
    • If you qualify for SSI, the income from that does not interfere with your ability to get other kinds of government benefits. For example, you may still be eligible for programs like Medicare or Medicaid, SNAP benefits, or other programs intended to assist people with low income. In fact, you can apply for these benefits at the same time you apply for SSI benefits, if you so choose.
  5. You still must meet disability requirements
    • Even if you meet the income requirements for SSI, you still need to have a disability that prevents you from making a living on your own. This is not the kind of thing you can just prove with a doctor’s note, however. You must go to a Disability Determination Services (DDS) office, where your medical condition will be evaluated by an approved medical examiner. Only if they confirm the nature and severity of your disability will you be able to get SSI benefits.

If you or a loved one need assistance applying for SSDI or SSI benefits, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced Social Security Disability benefits lawyer. The lawyers at Sullivan & Kehoe, LLP have over 50 years of combined experience between its attorneys and are available to you or your loved one in obtaining Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits. To schedule a consultation with our New York Social Security Disability benefits lawyers, call (631) 823-7155.

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