The United States operates a program called Social Security that uses funds from the public to provide economic security for the public as a whole. All employers in the U.S. must pay Social Security taxes each year.

The money from Social Security taxes is used to provide benefits for individuals who have reached the age of retirement or are eligible in another way to receive Social Security benefits. This program provides income for retired individuals so they have funds to live on and to keep the economy flowing.

In addition, Social Security provides financial support for individuals that are disabled. Over the course of an individual’s working years, they will pay a certain percentage of their income to the government in the form of Social Security taxes.

After the working individual retires or becomes disabled, the government will provide monthly payments based upon the amount which they paid in Social Security taxes. Both self-employed individuals and individuals who work for employers are entitled to Social Security benefits.

The Social Security program provides a number of different kinds of benefits, which include:

If an individual retires at the age of 62 or after, they are entitled to retirement benefits. The amount of money the individual will receive depends on the amount of money they made over the course of their lifetime. Their benefits will increase the later they retire, up until the age of 70.

If an individual becomes disabled prior to retirement, they may be eligible for disability benefits. A disabled individual may receive a benefit amount roughly equal to what their retirement benefit amount would have been.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is available to individuals who did not earn a large income during their working years but will need financial assistance. SSI is only available to individuals who are over 65, disabled, or blind.

Survivor’s benefits are available if an individual’s spouse has passed away and they would have otherwise been entitled to retirement or disability benefits. In these cases, the spouse may receive those benefits on their deceased spouse’s behalf.

If a parent was entitled to retirement or disability benefits, a child may be eligible for surviving child benefits. These benefits may be available for biological children, adopted children, and step-children.

What is the Social Security Supplemental Security Income Program?

The Social Security Supplemental Security Income Program, or SSI, offers monthly benefits for individuals who qualify. If an individual receives SSI, they may also be eligible for other benefits, including Medicaid and food stamps.

Who Qualifies for Supplemental Security Income?

There are three groups of individuals who may be eligible to receive SSI. Qualifying individuals must be 65 years of age or older or be disabled or blind. To be considered disabled, children and adults must have a physical or mental problem that will last longer than 1 year.

Children and adults are required to be totally blind or have very poor eyesight to qualify. However, if an individual’s sight is not poor enough to qualify for benefits as a blind person, they still may be eligible to receive SSI as a disabled person if their poor eyesight prevents them from working.

Additional requirements include:

  • The individual must reside in the United States;
  • The individual must be a United States national, U.S. citizen, or an alien that meets certain requirements; and
  • The individual must have limited earnings and limited resources.

What is SSI Disability?

SSI disability is a specific assistance program overseen by the Social Security Administration (SSA). It is available for some individuals who have not worked enough to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits or for individuals who have never been employed before.

In general, SSI benefits include a monthly income that provides financial support for individuals who are:

  • Elderly;
  • Blind; and/or
  • Have a disability as defined in the guidelines.

How is SSI Disability Support Determined?

In order to be eligible for SSI disability income, the individual must show proof of their disability. In many cases, this program is difficult to qualify for because it is associated with lower income limits as well as limits in terms of what assets an individual owns.

One of the first factors that must be examined when determining an individual’s eligibility for SSI disability is how many years they worked. If the individual worked for a sufficient amount of quarters, they may be covered under Social Security programs rather than Supplemental Security Income programs.

It is important to note that SSI disability and Social Security disability are different programs. SSI is a more need based program intended to help individuals who are truly in financial need. For this reason, Social Security claims are more common than Supplemental Security claims.

The Supplemental Security program is funded through a separate account in the general treasury of the United States. The Social Security program is funded through the Social Security Trust Fund.

In some cases, an individual may be able to file for both Social Security Disability and SSI. This process is known as concurrent filing and occurs in some cases. There are limited amounts of funds that an individual can receive each month from either program.

How Do I Apply for Supplemental Security Income?

An individual may apply for SSI over the phone or by visiting their local Social Security office. When an individual applies for SSI, they will be required to provide various information and documents, including:

  • Their Social Security number;
  • Proof of their age;
  • Their doctor and hospital contact information; and
  • A copy of their lease, mortgage, or other housing information.

What Does the Social Security Administration Consider when Reviewing My Application?

Because SSI is designed to supplement an individual’s income, whether or not an individual is approved for SSI will depend on how much income they have and what they own. Income may include:

  • The individual’s wages as well as their spouse’s wages;
  • Social Security benefits;
  • Pensions;
  • Energy discounts; and
  • Non cash items, including:
    • Food;
    • Clothing; and
    • Shelter.

Things an individual owns may include:

  • Real estate;
  • Bank accounts;
  • Cash;
  • Stocks; and
  • Bonds.

It is important to note that things that are not usually included in ownership calculations include an individual’s home, land they reside on, and their vehicle.

Is My Child Eligible for Supplemental Security Income?

An individual’s child may be eligible for SSI if they meet the following requirements:

  • They are under 18, or
  • They are under 22 and attending school regularly;
  • They are neither married nor the head of a household; and
  • They are blind or disabled.

In order to be considered blind for SSI, an individual must have vision worse than 20/200 in their best eye or their best eye has a limited field of vision. If an individual’s child’s blindness is not severe enough to meet SSI requirements, they may be eligible under a disability if their blindness limits their activities.

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Social Security Benefits?

It is beneficial to have the assistance of a government attorney that is experienced with Social Security benefits and regulations for any Social Security issues you may have. Your lawyer can review your case and assist you with submitting your claim for SSI.

If you are having issues obtaining your SSI benefits, your lawyer can assist you in preparing and filing an appeal. Your lawyer can also determine if any of your family members are eligible for benefits due to your disability. It is not uncommon for an individual’s Social Security claims to be denied, so do not be discouraged and seek the assistance of an attorney as soon as possible in order to obtain the benefits you deserve.