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Understanding SSI benefits

Many people in Missouri who apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are only vaguely aware of another program that can provide significant assistance to persons with very low incomes: Supplemental Security Income. In this post, we will outline the eligibility requirements for a successful SSI claim and summarize the benefits of a successful claim.

SSI benefits are available to persons who are: age 65 or older, blind, or disabled. Blind persons seeking SSI benefits must satisfy the Social Security Disability requirements for blindness, and those seeking SSI benefits based upon income must satisfy the following requirements. Eligibility for SSI benefits is determined by totaling a person's monthly income (or a couple's monthly income, if they apply as a couple), subtracting amounts that are not "countable" under SSA regulations, and subtracting the total, called "countable income," from the "Federal benefit amount," which is $733. If the applicant's available income is more than $733 per month, he or she is not eligible for SSI benefits. If countable income is less than $733 per month, the applicant will receive benefits equal to the difference.

The federal regulations that govern the SSI program required that many items must be excluded from countable income in determining eligibility for SSI benefits. Space limitations preclude a complete enumeration of these benefits, but the more common adjustments include excluding the first $20 of monthly income, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) payments, home energy assistance, and income tax refunds. If an application for SSI benefits is denied, or if the benefit amount is less than anticipated, the applicant can utilize the SSA's appeal process.

Anyone considering submitting an application for SSI benefits may benefit from consulting a lawyer who specializes in assisting persons in obtaining SSDI and SSI benefits. Such a consultation can provide assistance in assembling the necessary information to support the application and assistance with an appeal if the application is denied.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Understanding Supplemental Security Income SSI Income -- 2016 Edition,"

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