Supplemental Security Income is a bit different from other Social Security programs. Unlike other Social Security benefits, SSI doesn’t require that you have a certain number of work credits to obtain benefits. Instead, SSI is a program meant to supplement the income of a disabled or elderly person who has a tough time making ends meet.
Who SSI is For
The SSA requires that you are either blind, disabled or over 65 to obtain SSI benefits. The SSA specifically defines a disability as a condition that will last at least a year or result in death. If you are able to work and earn at least $1,000 a month, you’re usually not considered disabled. If you can still work part time while you’re disabled (the SSA encourages it), your SSI benefits will be reduced, but they will start up again if you earn less at work or cannot work.
Your income must fall under a certain amount in order for you to qualify for SSI. The SSA defines income as wages, other Social Security benefits and pensions. Food and shelter also counts as part of your income. Actual income requirements vary depending on where you live, but you can call the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 to find out what the limit is in your state.
You may qualify as an individual if your resources are under $2,000, or as a couple if your resources are under $3,000. Resources are the things you own, such as cash, stocks, bonds, real estate and bank accounts. The SSA doesn’t count your home, the land you live on, your car, burial plots and life insurance policies with a face value under $1,500.
Other Things That Affect Eligibility
Because Social Security benefits are counted as part of your income, you may not be eligible for SSI if you’re already receiving retirement, disability or survivor’s benefits. You must also be a U.S. citizen and live in the U.S. or the Northern Mariana Islands to obtain SSI, but in some cases noncitizen residents may qualify too. Also, you usually cannot obtain SSI if you live in a public institution.