SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, provides monthly cash payments to
- people in need who are 65 or older, and to
- people of any age who are blind**(see below) or disabled, including children.
To qualify for supplemental security income:
You must have little or no income and very few assets or resources. Your assets are the value of the things you own. They must be less than $2,000 if you are single, or less than $3,000 if you are married. The value of your home does not count–if you live in it. Generally, the value of your car does not count. And the value of certain other resources, such as a burial plot, may not count either. To receive SSI, you must live in one of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands and you must also apply for any other cash benefits like Medicaid, food stamps, etc. you may be able to get.
**Blindness is “statutory blindness,” which means you have a 20/200 vision or less in your better eye with use of a correcting lens or you have limited vision (a radius of 20 degrees or less) in your better eye. If you have a visual impairment that is not “statutory blindness” as defined above, you may still be eligible for SSI benefits on the basis of disability and you should still apply.
If you’re not a U.S. citizen, but you reside legally in the United States, you still may be able to get SSI. Ask the representative at Social Security: see number below.
SSI Monthly Payments
Here are the maximum monthly payments you can expect as of 2012 if you qualify for supplemental security income. (Not all SSI recipients receive the maximum amount. Your payment may be lower if you have other income. Remember, you must have little or no income and few assets to qualify.):
- Person living alone: $785.00
- Person living with others, but paying his or her own expenses: $721.00
- Person living in someone else’s household and receiving support and maintenance: $488.34
- Person living in public general hospital or Medicaid-approved long-term health facility: $55.00 or $35.00 depending on the type of facility
- Couple living alone: $1,152.00
- Couple living with others, but paying their own expenses: $1,094.00
- Couple living in someone else’s household and receiving support and maintenance: $744.67
Qualify for Supplemental Security Income? Here’s how to apply:
Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (or TTY 1-800-325-0778 if you are deaf or hard of hearing) and make an appointment–there are no forms available online because someone has to walk you through the application. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, they will take your telecommunications relay services (TRS) assisted calls at 1-800 772-1213. You can have an appointment to apply for benefits on the telephone or in person at your local Social Security office.
If you don’t speak English or have trouble understanding English, Social Security will provide a free interpreter or you can have a friend or family member interpret for you. Here’s the SSI form to appoint someone to interpret for you.
If you are denied SSI
You can re-apply and get someone from legal aid to represent you for free. Here is a great birds eye view of the system from behind the scenes.