A Guide to Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
At Jacobs Law Office, we often get asked about Supplemental Security Income or SSI for short. We understand you have a lot of questions surrounding SSI benefits, qualifications, payouts, and more. We’ve comprised this guide to help you better understand Supplemental Security Income.
What is Supplemental Security Income?
SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income. The Social Security Administration provides monthly benefits = paid to individuals 65 years of age or above, disabled, blind, or meet other requirements to assist them with their limited incomes. Children who are disabled or blind may also qualify for SSI.
SSI intends to assist blind or disabled individuals with little to no income and offer cash assistance to meet basics needs such as clothing, food, and other necessities. Benefits are paid monthly to recipients.
What is SSI based on?
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), “SSI is a needs-based program for people with limited income and resources.” Meaning, unlike Social Security Disability Income, there are no work credits required – it is based solely on need and Federal and State laws, which consider where you live, who lives with you, and what income you receive.
Who Qualifies for SSI Benefits?
SSI eligibility is based on many factors. You must meet all of the SSA’s requirements:
- Be at least 65 OR be blind or disabled.
- Have limited income and resources.
- Be a citizen or a national of the U.S. or an alien who meets certain applicable requirements.
The SSA has created a helpful questionnaire called the SSA Best Eligibility Screening Tool to quickly help you determine if you qualify to receive SSI benefits.
Can Social Security Income be Garnished?
No. Unlike Social Security benefits, SSI benefits are protected and cannot be garnished or levied to pay other debts like child support, unpaid taxes, or alimony. They are also non-transferable. However, Treasury’s Financial Management Service can offset, or reduce, your Social Security benefits to collect delinquent debts owed to other Federal agencies, such as student loans owed to the Department of Education.
What is the Difference Between SSI and Social Security?
Many people who are eligible for SSI may also qualify for Social Security benefits. The SSI application is also the application for Social Security benefits. However, Supplemental Security Income and Social Security are different in many ways.
How is SSI Different from Social Security?
- The SSA may pay Social Security Benefits to you and your family if you are “insured.” – that you have worked for a certain amount of time and have paid Social Security taxes. Unlike Social Security benefits, SSI benefits are not based on your prior work or a family member’s previous work.
- The U.S. Treasury funds SSI. Social Security taxes withheld under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) or the Self Employment Contributions Act (SECA) do not fund the SSI program.
- In most states, SSI beneficiaries also can get medical assistance (Medicaid) to pay for hospital stays, doctor bills, prescription drugs, and other health-related costs.
- Most states provide a supplemental payment to particular SSI beneficiaries.
- SSI beneficiaries may be eligible for food assistance in every state except California. In some states, an application for SSI benefits also serves as an application for food assistance.
- SSI benefits are paid on the first of the month.
- To get SSI, you must be disabled, blind, or at least 65 years of age and have a limited income and resources. Additionally, to get SSI, you must:
- be a resident of the U.S., and
- not be absent from the country for a full calendar month or more or 30 consecutive days or more; and
- be either a U.S. citizen or national, or in one of the specific categories of qualified non–citizens.
How is SSI like Social Security?
- Both programs pay monthly.
- The medical standards for disability are the same in both programs for individuals age 18 or older. For children from birth to 18 years, there is a separate definition of disability under SSI.
- SSA administers both programs
Do I Need to Hire a Supplemental Security Income Lawyer?
Often times, people wait until after they’ve been denied (and several times) before ever contacting an attorney. To get better assistance, consult with your disability lawyer from the beginning. We are always here to help you get a better understanding of the claims process. We can also assist you in gathering the necessary documentation needed to prove a claim for disability benefits.
It is not uncommon for claimants who have previously been denied several times to be subsequently approved when they receive the legal aid of a disability lawyer.
Jacobs Law Office is here to assist you from the start. Pat Jacobs is a Social Security Disability and SSI attorney in Charleston, West Virginia, who is also a member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR). Pat is ready to sit down with you for a FREE consultation to evaluate your case and is happy to help you file your application or appeal your claim.