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What is Supplemental Security Income?

The Social Security Administration or SSA administers a number of programs intended to assist Missourians who are disabled or financially impoverished. One of the most used programs is called Supplemental Security Income or SSI, but few people understand how the program works.

A person making a claim for SSI benefits must provide information about the qualifying condition, such as age, blindness or disability and their income and assets. The following groups of persons are eligible for SSI benefits if they have income less than the maximum prescribed by SSA regulations: age 65 or older, blind or disabled.

The SSA reviews the applicant's income from all sources, including earnings from work, Social Security benefits, pensions, food and shelter. The income limits for eligibility vary from state to state. The SSA then applies a formula to determine if the person's income is low enough to make the person eligible for SSI benefits.

In addition to reviewing an applicant's income, SSA looks at his or her living arrangements, amount and nature of assets, payments received from relatives and similar factors. Certain assets are not counted, such as the applicant's home, life insurance policies valued at less than $1,500, one automobile and burial plots. Generally, persons whose assets exceed $2,000 are not eligible for SSI benefits. If the value of any single asset or group of assets is greater than SSA regulations allow, the claim will be denied.

Anyone considering applying for SSI benefits for themselves or a loved one may wish to better understand the application process for SSI claims. A knowledgeable attorney can assist in assembling the necessary information and submitting it to the SSA, and in the event an application for SSI benefits is denied, they could provide essential assistance in filing an appeal.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Supplemental Security Income," accessed on July 3, 2016

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