What Is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

The Social Security Administration manages two programs that provide benefits to the blind and disabled. These are the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. If you’re a potential beneficiary, you should be familiar with both. You should also consult a New Orleans disability attorney to see if you qualify. Both of these two programs have their own criteria and methods for determining payments.

SSI is a benefits program for those in need who are disabled, blind, or age 65 or older. Blind or disabled children may also receive payments through SSI. SSI is considered a “means-tested” program, meaning that benefits are based on need rather than work history. Because SSI is need-based, some important financial requirements apply. To be eligible, a beneficiary must have limited income and less than $2,000 in assets (or $3,000 for a couple).

There are different eligibility requirements for SSI and SSDI. Unlike SSI, which is paid for by general tax revenues, SSDI is funded through payroll taxes. During your career, you make contributions to the Social Security trust fund through FICA. SSDI is therefore based on earnings. A recipient is considered “insured” once he or she attains sufficient work credits. Consult a New Orleans disability attorney for more information about these credits.

It is possible for an individual to receive both SSI and SSDI, as well as benefits from other federal programs. Disabled individuals who meet the SSI income requirements can also receive Medicaid. Most people who qualify for SSI will also qualify for food stamps. You may also receive SSI and Social Security payments, and many people in fact do this. Your New Orleans disability attorney can explain how receiving SSI may affect your benefits from these and other federal programs.

Another difference between SSI and SSDI is the manner in which benefits are calculated. As mentioned above, SSDI is based on your work history. Benefits are therefore calculated using your lifetime average earnings that are covered by Social Security. Some reductions to your payment may be made for workers’ compensation and/or public disability benefits. However, other income or resources do not affect the payment amount.

Calculating SSI is more complicated. It starts with a figure known as the Federal Benefit Rate, or FBR. In 2018, the FBR was $750 for an individual and $1,125 for a couple. From this figure, your countable income is deducted, resulting in your SSI payment. “Countable income” has a specific meaning for purposes of SSI benefits. The important thing for a beneficiary to know is that not all income is counted. In other words, certain portions of your income may not be reduced from the FBR. Your New Orleans disability attorney will be able to determine which types of income will be considered countable.

Many states have their own supplemental benefits in addition to SSI. The amounts and qualifications vary by state. If there is a state supplement where you live, that amount is added to the above SSI calculation. Note, however, that there is no state supplement for the SSDI program.

A New Orleans Disability Attorney Can Help

If you or a loved one are disabled, making ends meet can be challenging. It is critical to explore all options and consider your eligibility for each one. Navigating the rules and requirements of SSI, SSDI, and other benefits is a difficult task. You need an experienced New Orleans disability attorney who is familiar with these programs. The professionals at Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC, will walk you through the process and help secure the benefits you need. Call us today to set up a consultation.