Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federally funded cash assistance program for people who are aged, blind or disabled and have little or no income. The program is designed to provide funds necessary for basic living and individuals are able to apply even if they have not contributed to the Social Security system. The federal maximum SSI benefit rate is $721 for an individual and $1082 for a couple. These figures may vary based on income and state of residence.
In addition to being aged, blind or disabled, to qualify for SSI an individual must be a citizen of the United States, must meet income requirements and may not have any family assets. Aged individuals are those over 65 years old. Blindness is defined as having a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less with corrective lenses or as having a visual field limitation. Disabled means that an individual possesses a medically determinable physical or mental impairment. This impairment results in the inability to work, may result in death, and will last longer than 12 months. Disabled children are also eligible for SSI.
Individuals who are confined to an institution at the government’s expense (prison) or who have been absent from the country for 30 days or more, do not qualify for SSI.
Applying for SSI
There is no charge to apply for SSI and anyone may apply. You may apply by making an appointment at the local Social Security office. Applying for SSI is a process and the office will need several supporting documents. A social security card, birth certificate and proof of income are among the items you may be asked to bring to your appointment. If you do not have an income you may need to prove this by providing bank statements. You may be asked to bring in proof of other resources or assets including property deeds, disability insurance policies, and titles for vehicles. The SSI office may ask for proof of your living arrangements including cost of rent/mortgage and information on others that live in the home. If you are filing as a blind or disabled individual the office may request medical reports, contact information of doctors and providers that have treated you as well as prescription medication names. A description of your work history including job titles and duties may also be requested. If your application is denied, you have the right to file an appeal.