SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME (SSI)
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a nationwide federal means-based assistance program implemented to provide a subsistence amount of income for the elderly or disabled. The program is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). In order to qualify for SSI benefits, you must be blind or disabled, or be 65 years or older. Some categories of non-citizens may be eligible. In addition, you must meet certain income and resource restrictions.
• The 2015 monthly benefit amount is $733 ($1,100 for an eligible couple). The program was designed to help supplement very modest monthly incomes, by providing monthly payments to individuals whose monthly income is below the $733 monthly limit.
• SSA does not count all income when determining eligibility under the SSI program. The program provides for a $20 per month unearned income disregard and $65 per month earned income disregard (half of any remaining income is counted). However, an ineligible spouse’s income and resources, the income and resources of a parent to a child’s income who is under 18 and the income and resources of a sponsor to a sponsored non-citizen’s income are all counted towards total income.
• Some states, including Pennsylvania, provide supplements to the federal amount.
• Your resources may not exceed $2,000 ($3,000 for eligible couple). Resources include cash, bank accounts and real estate. Some resources are exempt and these include: your home that you live in, your car and $1500 worth of life insurance policies and burial funds.
• Recipients must reside in the United States. If you are absent for a month or more, you may lose your SSI eligibility. You may become eligible again, once you are back in the county for a full month.
• If you are incarcerated, you may lose your SSI edibility.
• You may be eligible to receive a small SSI benefit if are in a medical institution where Medicaid pays for a substantial part of your cost of care.
• If you are homeless and live in a shelter, you may be eligible to receive SSI benefits.
Individuals who are under 65 years of age must also meet Social Security’s disability standards.
• You must show that you have a medical impairment that is expected to last a year or result in death, and prevents you from working. You must also pass the five part evaluation:
1) Are you working?
2) Is your medical condition considered severe?
3) Is your medical condition found on the List of Impairments?
4) Can you do the work you did before?
5) Can you do any other work?
If you do not pass this five step process, SSA will not consider you as “disabled”.
Those who do not agree with SSA’s determination of eligibility may appeal.
• You have sixty days to appeal SSA’s decision
For more information about Supplement Security Income, please see the following link from the National Senior Citizens Law Center: http://www.nsclc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/WEBINAR-SSI-Basics-FINAL.pdf and the following publications: Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Disability Benefits, and the Appeals Process, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) In Pennsylvania, found on the Social Security website at www.socialsecurity.gov. You may call the Social Security Administration toll-free at 1-800-772-1213.
For further information, please call the Pennsylvania SeniorLAW HelpLine at 215-988-1242 or toll-free at 1-877-727-7529.