If you are blind, elderly, and/or disabled and already receiving Social Security disability benefits, you may be able to qualify for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). SSI does exactly what its name implies – it supplements your income to cover necessary expenses.
What Exactly is Supplemental Security Income?
SSI is a federal program run by the Social Security Administration that provides disability benefits to people who are over the age of 65, blind or disabled, and belong to the low-income category. Children below 18 years of age are also eligible for SSI benefits if they happen to be blind or disabled and come from a family of limited financial resources.
For SSI purposes, blindness includes complete blindness as well as partial blindness/poor vision cases. However, in order to be considered disabled, “individuals must have an impairment, either medical, psychological, or psychiatric in nature, that keeps them from being able to do substantial gainful activity.”
While determining the financial factor, the SSI takes into account an individual’s income as well as assets he/she owns. Income includes any money that the claimant earns on a monthly basis, like salary, wages, Social Security benefits, and pensions. Income also includes non-cash items received as part of any welfare program, such as food, clothing, and shelter.
How to Qualify for SSI
The income limit for SSI is calculated based on the federal benefit rate (FBR). The FBR represents both the SSI income limit and the maximum federal SSI payment limit per month. In order to be eligible for SSI benefits, a claimant’s assessable monthly income cannot be greater than the FBR for that year. Furthermore, the claimant’s tangible financial resources, like savings and assets, cannot exceed $2,000 ($3,000 if married). As of 2015, the FBR is $733 per month for individuals and $1,100 for couples. However, the following is exempted from calculating the net monthly income:
- the first $20 of most income received each month;
- the first $65 a month earned from working, and half the amount over $65;
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (also known as food stamps);
- shelter received from private non-profit organizations;
- most home energy assistance.
In order to receive Supplemental Security Income benefits, it is essential that the claimant is a lawful U.S. citizen or noncitizen lawfully admitted for permanent residence, who lives in the United States or Northern Mariana Islands. Some noncitizens who have been granted special status by the Immigration and Naturalization Service may also be eligible for SSI welfare. Details of SSI for non-citizens are explained here.
Hire an Experienced SSI Lawyer
The best way to proceed with a SSI claim in South Florida is to hire a local SSI lawyer who knows Florida law and can help you with the claims filing process without any unnecessary hiccups.
As you can tell from the information above, Social Security law can be quite complex. At Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti, P.A. we offer free, confidential consultations so that you can learn your rights under the Social Security Administration. There are no fees for representation before the Social Security Administration in disability claims, unless we win. We have offices in Dade, Broward and Monroe Counties for your convenience.