One of the most common questions I get as an SSI attorney is what is SSI and am I eligible? SSI is a program for low income individuals with little to no resources. Unlike SSD you do not need to have earned enough work credits in order to apply. If you have a low SSD payment you may also apply for both SSD and SSI.
How much can you earn and still be eligible for SSI? Generally, the income limit for SSI is the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR), which is $733 per month for an individual and $1,100 per month for a couple in 2015. Not all income is countable so you may be able to earn more than $733 per month as an individual and still qualify for SSI. http://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-income-ussi.htm gives a lengthy explanation, but since it is quite complicated I advise claimants to contact the national social security telephone number, 1-800-772-1213, or their local social security office to determine whether they qualify income wise for SSI.
What is a resource? The list includes:
• Bank accounts, stocks, U.S. savings bonds
• Life insurance
• Personal property
• Anything else you own which could be changed to cash and used for food or shelter
• Deemed resources.
If you live in the house and use one car to drive to medical appointments they are generally not considered resources. There are many other exceptions of when a resource will not count for purposes for SSI. http://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-resources-ussi.htm provides a lengthy list of resources that do not count. The general rule is that an individual cannot have resources worth over $2000.00 and a couple cannot have resources totaling over $3000.00.
What is a deemed resource? It is when a portion of the resources of a spouse, parent or a parent’s spouse that is deemed to belong to the person applying for SSI.
If you are uncertain whether or not you qualify I would suggest you try applying for both programs to make sure that you do not miss out on any benefits. It is important to apply right away for SSI as there are no retroactive benefits for SSI. You can only receive benefits beginning the day of the application.
To view the actual process for applying for SSI go to: What do I need to do to apply for SSI?
Please remember that this is just general information, and everyone’s situation is unique. This article should not be considered legal advice.