If you are a Houston resident who is struggling to make ends meet, you may have considered applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. But you may have held back out of uncertainty about whether or not you would qualify for the federal benefit program. It’s understandable to be a bit confused, as these programs are complex.
There are also strict income and asset criteria that must be met in order for applicants to be eligible for benefits. Unlike Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, SSI benefits are not linked to the FICA and Social Security taxes that you and your previous employers paid into the system.
So, who can qualify?
You may be eligible for SSI benefits if you meet the following conditions:
- You are disabled
- You’re blind
- You are 65 or older
- Your financial resources and income are quite sparse
What does that mean?
It’s the last condition that confuses many people. As of 2020, a single person can earn up to $783 per month and married couples have a limit of $1,175. But there is still some latitude here, as the Social Security Administration (SSA) views certain non-cash assistance, payments and earnings differently. For instance, income from SS benefits will be counted against your monthly limits, but funds generated from a special needs trust may not be.
What if I own my home?
If you are a homeowner, this does not preclude your being eligible for SSI payments. The SSA does not include your home or vehicle as countable resources for SSI eligibility purposes. However, other real properties that you own or have an interest are counted, as are financial resources like stocks and bonds. Individuals are allowed to have countable resources of $2,000 or less for single claimants and $3,000 for married couples.
Should you apply for SSI?
This is a needs-based program designed to be a part of the nation’s social safety net. If you are struggling to meet your living expenses and think that you might qualify for SSI benefits, it is a good idea to seek legal guidance to learn more about the eligibility requirements and the SSI application process.