Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is an alternative program to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). For individuals who cannot qualify for SSDI because of the work history requirement, SSI can provide much-needed financial assistance.
However, before you can receive SSI benefits in Florida, there are a number of conditions that you have to meet first.
The Age, Blindness, and Disability Requirements
To qualify for benefits under the SSI program, you must be:
- Age 65 or older;
- Blind; or
Any applicant for SSI must meet at least one of the three conditions listed above.
To count as blind for the purposes of SSI as noted on the Social Security Administration (SSA) website, you must “have a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in your better eye with the use of a correcting lens” OR “have a visual field limitation in your better eye, such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle of no greater than 20 degrees.”
The requirements for counting as disabled for SSI are similar to the requirements under SSDI, including:
- Not being able to conduct “substantial gainful activity” (work);
- Having a condition that has lasted or is expected to last for more than a year—or result in death;
- Children must have a physical or mental impairment that results in “marked and severe functional limitations.”
However, meeting the age, blindness, or disability requirement alone isn’t enough to qualify for SSI—this is just the first step.
The Second Set of Requirements
SSI is designed as a need-based safety net for U.S. citizens to be able to provide for themselves when they don’t have any other recourse. As such, it’s natural that there would be a lot of stipulations to meet before applying.
To qualify for SSI, you have to meet ALL of the following conditions:
- Have limited income (including money earned from work, Social Security, workers’ compensation, unemployment, Department of Veterans Affairs, free food/shelter benefits, etc.)
- Possess limited resources (assets totaling less than $2,000 for single persons, $3,000 for married couples—some exceptions apply)
- Be a U.S. citizen or national, in one of certain categories of aliens (and not subject to an active warrant for deportation or removal)
- Reside in the 50 States, the District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands
- Not be absent from the country for a full month or 30+ consecutive days (whichever comes first)
- Apply for other cash benefits or payments that you may be eligible for first (SSDI, workers’ comp, etc.)
- Not be confined to an institution at the State’s expense (hospitals, prisons, etc.)
- Grant the SSA permission to contact any financial institution to verify income & asset status
- File an application
- Not give away resources simply to reduce them below the SSI limit (may cause ineligibility for up to 36 months)
The SSA may impose certain other restrictions/requirements, and update the dollar values attached to them, so it’s strongly recommended that you check their website for the full list of requirements when considering an SSI application.
If you feel that you meet the requirements for getting SSI benefits, but have already been denied once, get some help from a non-attorney advocate at Disability Experts of Florida today!