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Supplemental Security Income – Frequently Asked Questions

How does a child qualify for disability benefits?

Children who are disabled may be eligible for monthly benefits under one or more of the programs Social Security administers. Both the Social Security Disability program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provide a monthly income for people with severe disabilities. However, the eligibility requirements for the two programs are different. Social Security Disability pays benefits to disabled or retired workers and their families and to the families of deceased workers.

Child’s disability benefits generally may be paid to a dependent unmarried child under age 18, to a child age 18 or older who became disabled before age 22, and to a full-time elementary or secondary school student under age 19. If the parent is alive, he or she must be entitled to retirement or disability benefits. If deceased, the parent must have worked long enough under Social Security for survivor’s benefits to be paid on the record.

A child age 18 or older may be entitled to Social Security disability benefits based on his or her disability when a parent who has worked long enough under the program is entitled or dies. The criteria used to evaluate the disability are the same as those used to evaluate disability in adults. The child must be unable to do any “substantial” work because of a medical condition that has lasted or is expected either to last at least 12 months or to result in death. Usually a job that pays $740 or more per month ($780 in 2002) is considered “substantial.” The child’s disability must have begun before age 22.

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides monthly income to people who are age 65 or older, or are blind or disabled, and have limited income and financial resources. Children can qualify if they meet the definition of disability and if the household income of the parents and the child are within the allowed limits.

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What kind of disability benefits does Social Security pay?

People who are disabled may be eligible for monthly benefits under one or more of the programs Social Security administers. Both the Social Security Disability program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provide a monthly income for people with disabilities. However, the non-medical eligibility requirements for the two programs are different.

The Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) program pays benefits to disabled workers and their families. To be eligible for DIB, you must be disabled and must have earned a minimum number of credits from work covered under Social Security. (The required number of credits varies depending on your age at the time you became disabled.)

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides monthly income to people who are age 65 or older, or are blind or disabled, and have limited income and financial resources. Effective January 2002, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment for an eligible individual is $545 per month and $817 per month for an eligible couple. If you are married, and only one person is eligible, a portion of your spouse’s income may be counted. In addition, your financial resources (savings and assets you own) cannot exceed $2,000 ($3,000 if married). You can be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) even if you have never worked in employment covered under Social Security. No Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are paid to family members, only to the disabled person.

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How much will I receive in Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits?

The amount of your benefit depends on where you live. The basic Supplemental Security Income (SSI) check is the same nationwide. Effective January 2002, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment for an eligible individual is $545 per month and $817 per month for an eligible couple. However, many states add money to the basic check.

Following is a list of all States that supplement the basic Supplemental Security Income (SSI) amount with a link to more information about that State:

If you get Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you also may be able to get other help from your state or county. For example, you may be ale to get Medicaid, food stamps, or some other social services. For information about all the services available in your community, call your local social services department or public welfare office.

What is the difference between Social Security Disability (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability?

This is confusing to a lot of people because both programs are administered by the Social Security Administration.

Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is a program financed through general tax revenues-not through Social Security trust funds. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits are paid to people who have a disability and who don’t own much or have a lot of income.

Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits, or DIB, is a program that workers, employers and the self-employed pay for with their Social Security taxes. You qualify for these benefits based on your work history, and the amount of your benefit is based on your earnings.

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Can I receive Social Security disability (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

You may be able to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in addition to monthly Social Security benefits if your Social Security benefit is low.

The amount of your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit depends on where you live. The basic Supplemental Security Income (SSI) check is the same nationwide. Effective January 2002, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment for an eligible individual is $545 per month and $817 per month for an eligible couple. However, many states add money to the basic check.

Following is a list of all States that supplement the basic Supplemental Security Income (SSI) amount with a link to more information about that State:

If you get Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you also may be able to get other help from your state or county. For example, you may be able to get Medicaid, food stamps, or some other social services. For information about all the services available in your community, call your local social services department or public welfare office.

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If I am on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability, what is the affect on my benefits if I work?

Unlike Social Security disability (DIB), there is no trial work period for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability beneficiaries.

For someone who is working, the first $65 ($85 if the person has no other income in a month) of earnings in a month are disregarded. After that Social Security considers $1 for every $2 the person earns in a month. Social Security also deducts from the monthly earnings any monthly expenses that a person, who has a disability, has which are needed by the person to work, are related to the person’s impairment and paid by the person. These expenses are deducted before Social Security applies the $1 for $2 computation.

For someone who is blind, Social Security deducts any expenses the person has in order to work that are paid by the person. This amount is deducted from the earnings after the $1 for $2 computation from the monthly earnings. The remaining earnings are added to any other income the person receives in a month, such as a pension or unemployment insurance, and the result is deducted from the federal benefit rate, which is $531 a month ($545 for 2002). If the person has only earnings, and doesn’t pay for any expenses to work as mentioned, the person can earn up to $1,147 in a month ($1175 in 2002) before the person’s SSI federal cash payments stop.

For States in which SSA administers a supplement to the federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit, the person can earn even more before cash payments stop. Even if cash payments stop, the person can remain eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, which in most states also means that the person is eligible for Medicaid, if the person’s earnings are below certain levels that factor in the resident state’s per capita or the person’s medical and personal attendant costs. If the person’s earnings don’t permit continued eligibility after considering these costs for the person, the person may become eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits again without filing a new application if the person’s earnings decrease during the following 12 months.

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Is it true that a person can own a home and still may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits?

Yes, under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program a person can own a home and a few assets and receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits

My child is disabled. Can he/she qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits?

Your child may be eligible for assistance under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides monthly payments to people who are age 65 or older, blind, or disabled and have limited income and financial resources. Children under age 18 can qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if they meet the definition of disability and their income and resources are within the allowed limits.

To be found disabled under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, a child must have a medically determinable impairment that causes marked and severe functional limitations. The impairment must have lasted or be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months or be expected to result in death. To meet this definition, the child may not be working at a job that Social Security considers to be substantial work.

Because Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based program, a person’s income and resources must be counted in determining eligibility and the payment amount. When a child under age 18 is living with his or her parents, Social Security must count a portion of the parents’ income in determining the child’s eligibility and payment amount. In this process, called “deeming,” the law recognizes that part of the parents’ income and resources normally are used to support the children.

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I understand that if I qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), I also will be eligible for other assistance, such as Medicaid.

How does this work?

Medicaid eligibility depends on your state. In most states, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients also get Medicaid. You should contact your medical assistance office. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients are also generally eligible for social services provided by the state, city or county where they live. These may include homemaker services, arrangements for meals or transportation. More information is available at the local public assistance office. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients may also qualify for food stamps in most states. For more information on Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), please click here .

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Can my children receive dependant’s benefits because I am on Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

No. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are based on the needs of the individual and are only paid to the qualifying person. There are no spouse, children’s or survivor’s benefits payable.

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How do I apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits?

SSA recommends that you complete a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit application with the assistance of an SSA employee. Call 1-800-772-1213 for an appointment. Northwest Disability may be able to help you with your application. Please call our office for further information.

You should apply as soon as possible to avoid any loss of benefits.

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I just got a notice from Social Security that said my Supplemental Security Income (SSI) case is being reviewed. What does this mean?

Social Security reviews every Supplemental Security Income (SSI) case from time to time to make sure the individuals who are receiving checks should continue to get them. The review also determines if the individuals are receiving the correct amounts.

Is the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment for an eligible couple twice that of an eligible individual? And if it isn’t, why not?

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides a basic Federal payment for an eligible individual and a larger amount for an eligible couple. The payment for a couple is lower than that made to two individuals because married people living together generally share expenses and live more economically than two people living independently.

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What is the relationship between Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid?

Medicaid is a jointly funded, federal-state health insurance program for low-income and needy people. It covers children, the aged, blind, and/or disabled and other people who are eligible to receive federally assisted income maintenance payments.

Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia provide Medicaid eligibility to people eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. In these States, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) application is also the Medicaid application. Medicaid eligibility starts the same month as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) eligibility.
The following jurisdictions use the same rules to decide eligibility for Medicaid as SSA uses for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), but require the filing of a separate application: Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Northern Mariana Islands.

The following States use their own eligibility rules for Medicaid, which are different from Social Security’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI) rules. In these States a separate application for Medicaid must be filed: Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota , Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota , Ohio, Oklahoma, Virginia.

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