Supplemental Security Income is a program through the Social Security Administration that offers monthly payments to disabled and blind adults and children whose income and resources are below certain financial standards. SSI payments also go to those who are without disabilities if they are over the age of 65 and within a certain financial bracket.
SSI is different from Social Security, though both are federal programs. Social Security is funded by social security taxes, while SSI is funded by general taxes and not tied to your employment. This monthly payout is meant to cover your basic needs, like food, clothing, and shelter.
Closer Look at Qualifications for SSI Benefits
One way to discover the most likely benefits you could apply for is here, the Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool https://ssabest.benefits.gov/, but for the purpose of this article I want to outline what disability means in the context of SSI benefits, since the screening test can take you in a few different directions.
To begin with, we should get a proper definition of blindness and disability as required for SSI. Blindness as a disability has the following criteria:
- Your central visual acuity for distance is 20/200 or less in your better eye with the use of glasses or contact lenses; or
- You have a visual field limitation in your better eye to such an extent that the widest diameter of your visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees.
Now, if you are visually impaired but not blind according to these guidelines you might still qualify for SSI on the basis of disability.
Disability in children (individuals under the age of 18) and adults (those who are 18 or older) has some overlapping definitions, but there are distinctions. In both instances disability counts as a condition that can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than twelve months. What separates children from adults is that children must be viewed as having marked and severe functional limitations, while adult disability results in an inability to perform any substantial gainful activity, meaning gainful employment. Substantial gainful activity is not relevant in the case of blind individuals.
In addition to disabled individuals, those who are 65 and older who have income and resources are also eligible for SSI. It is important for you to talk to a local Social Security attorney where you live to help you with your application.
Considering the Income You Have on Hand
Next we should look at what qualifies for income and resources. Limited income accounts for the money you earn from work, what you receive from other sources (like Social Security benefits, workers compensation, unemployment, Department of Veterans Affairs, or friends and family), and finally any free food or shelter. Resources are things you own, like the cash you have on hand, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, land, vehicles, personal property, life insurance, and anything that can be converted to cash. The limits for resources counted by the SSI is $2000 for individuals and children and $3000 for couples.