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Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Eligibility Guidlines

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a “needs-based” program designed to help individuals who: are of advanced age (65 or older), blind, or disabled. There are also several non-disability requirements an individual must meet to be eligible for SSI – for more information, click here.

Because SSI payments are based on an individual’s needs (i.e., income and resources), the general rule for eligibility of a single adult is as follows: has less than $2,000 in resources; owns only 1 automobile; owns only 1 home (must be your primary residence). If you are married you may have less than $3,000 in resources, own only 1 automobile, and own only 1 home (must be your primary residence).

SSI Example

A 60-year-old individual that worked from January 1976 to December 1990, earning $50,000 per year has earned 35 “work credits” and an insured status through December 1995. In February 2004, the individual suffered a heart attack that prevents him from attempting any work. The person does not have any money in the bank and only has 1 automobile. If the claimant cannot prove they became disabled prior to December 1995 they will not be eligible for DIB (note that the vast majority of Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) will not approve an Onset Date going back more than 4 years). Therefore, if the claimant shows they are disabled as of February 2004, after the Date Last Insured (DLI) expired, they will only be eligible for SSI. 

Tips & Tricks

Social Security often deducts money from the maximum amount of SSI benefits that you may be eligible to receive. Once you are approved for SSI you will want to show that you no longer require any kind support to pay your rent, food or utilities. Take a bill or lease that is in your name to the SSA office and your benefits should be increased to the maximum amount of eligibility.