Back to Basics: What qualifies you for SSI?

The SSI (the Supplemental Security Income) program is America’s safety net – a disability program for people with no appreciable earnings record.  It protects the very young, the homeless, the mentally ill – people who are marginalized by the fact that they are unemployable.  Before even arriving at the question of whether a person is disabled, Social Security screens all applicants for eligibility for this program, based on financial assets.  The medical standards are the same for all Social Security disability programs.

It is possible to be jointly eligible for SSI and “regular” Social Security disability.  This happens if a claimant’s disability payment based on earnings record is very low, and financial screening shows that the “regular” disability payment should be supplemented up to the SSI amount.   Each program comes with separate medical insurance benefits.  SSI unusually entitles a person to immediate Medicaid coverage

Not everyone gets the same amount. Other household income can reduce the amount paid. Where you live and who you live with can make a difference in the amount of the SSI payment. Some states and some individual counties with a very high cost of living supplement the basic SSI amount.

Countable income includes money you earn, “Regular” Social Security benefits, pensions and the value of items you are given by someone else — such as food, clothing and shelter.

SSI Eligibility SSI if your resources (the things you own) are worth no more than $2,000 for a person or $3,000 for a couple. They not count your home, and  usually do not count your car. We do count cash, bank accounts, stocks and bonds.

You must live inside the United States to get SSI. If you are a resident but not a citizen, you still may be able to get SSI.