The following information is derived from the Social Security Website.

WHAT IS SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME (SSI)      

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program financed through general revenues. SSI disability benefits are payable to adults or children who are disabled or blind, have limited income and resources, meet the living arrangement requirements, and are otherwise eligible. The monthly payment varies up to the maximum federal benefit rate, which may be supplemented by the State or decreased by countable income and resources.

Under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, a child from birth to age 18 may receive monthly payments based on disability or blindness if he or she has an impairment or combination of impairments that meets the definition of disability for children and the income and resources of the parents and the child are within the allowed limits.

The child must not be doing any "substantial" work, and must have a medical condition that has lasted or is expected either to last for at least 12 months or to result in death.

SSI will likely be effected by payments to an individual of structured settlement payments.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS PAYABLE BY SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME:

Those on SSI receive basic federal SSI benefits, subject to reduction for income received (whether earned or unearned), in addition to a State supplement from certain States.  The following States and jurisdiction supplement the basic federal SSI amounts:

    California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, D.C. 

Examples of these supplements (combined State and federal) are found below:

New York

    Person living alone $666.00

    Person living with others, but paying his or her own expenses $602.00

    Person living in someone else's household and receiving support and maintenance $409.00

     Person living in a public general hospital or Medicaid-approved long-term facility $ 35.00

     Couple living alone $973.00 Couple living with other, but paying their own expenses $915.00

     Couple living in someone else's household and receiving support and maintenance $625.34

New Jersey
 

    Person living alone  or others in own household
    $610.25.

    Person living with spouse who is not eligible for SSI  $894.36.

    Person living in someone else's household and receiving support and maintenance $430.31.

  • Person living in licensed residential health care facility $729.05.
  •  Person living in a public general hospital or Medicaid-approved long-term facility $ 40.00

     Couple living alone or with others in own household  $894.36.

     Couple living in someone else's household and receiving support and maintenance $672.43.

    Couple living in licensed residential health care facility $1,439.36.

REDUCTIONS IN SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME BENEFITS

    Earned Income

    For someone who is working, the first $65 ($85 if the person has no other income in a month) of earnings in a month are disregarded. After that we consider $1 for every $2 the person earns in a month. We also deduct from the monthly earnings any monthly expenses that a person, who has a disability, has which are needed by the person to work, are related to the person's impairment and paid by the person. These expenses are deducted before we apply the $1 for $2 computation.

    For someone who is blind, we deduct any expenses the person has in order to work that are paid by the person. This amount is deducted from the earnings after the $1 for $2 computation from the monthly earnings. The remaining earnings are added to any other income the person receives in a month, such as a pension or unemployment insurance, and the result is deducted from the federal benefit rate, which is $579 a month for 2005 ($564 for 2004).

    If the person has only earnings, and doesn't pay for any expenses to work as mentioned, the person can earn up to $1,243 in a month in 2005 ($1,213 in 2004) before the person's SSI federal cash payments stop.

    For States in which SSA administers a supplement to the federal SSI benefit, the person can earn even more before cash payments stop. Even if cash payments stop, the person can remain eligible for SSI benefits, which in most states also means that the person is eligible for Medicaid, if the person's earnings are below certain levels that factor in the resident state's per capita or the person's medical and personal attendant costs. If the person's earnings don't permit continued eligibility after considering these costs for the person, the person may become eligible for SSI benefits again without filing a new application if the person's earnings decrease during the following 12 months.

    Unearned Income

    Income that does not meet the definition of earned income is unearned income for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) purposes . Some examples of unearned income include:

      The value of food, shelter or clothing that someone gives to the SSI beneficiary or the amount of money they give to help pay for them;

      Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits;

      Railroad retirement and railroad unemployment benefits; annuities, pensions from any government or private source, workers' compensation, unemployment insurance benefits, black lung benefits and Social Security benefits;

      Prizes, settlements and awards, including court-ordered awards;

      Proceeds of life insurance policies;

      Gifts and contributions; Support and alimony payments;

      Inheritances in cash or property;

      Interest earned, including interest on savings, checking and other accounts;

      Rental income; and

      Strike pay and other benefits from unions.

      Someone may have "earned" the entitlement to these types of income, but SSI calls it "unearned" because it is not connected to present employment.

    Calculation of Benefit Amounts:

      Step 1:   SSI subtracts any income that it does not count from one’s total gross income. The remaining amount is considered "countable income."

      Step 2:   SSI subtract  "countable income" from the SSI Federal benefit rate. The result is the recipient’s monthly SSI benefit as follows:

        1)  Total Income less income that SSI does not count (the first $20 of most income received in a month) =  countable income.

        2) SSI Federal benefit rate less countable income  = SSI Federal benefit.

     

INCOME NOT COUNTED FOR ELIGIBILITY

Social Security does not count all income when deciding whether a person qualifies for SSI.

For example, SSI does not count:

  • The first $20 a month of most income;
     
  • The first $65 a month one earns from working and half the amount over $65;
     
  • Food stamps;
     
  • Shelter one receives from private nonprofit organizations;
    and
     
  • Most home energy assistance.
     
  • If one is married, SSI includes part of the spouse’s income and resources when deciding whether the person qualifies for SSI.  If the person is younger than age 18, SSI includes part of the parents’ income and resources. And, if the person is a sponsored noncitizen, SSI also may include the sponsor’s income and resources.

    For a student, some of the wages or scholarships received may not count.
  • For a person who is disabled but works, Social Security does not count wages used to pay for items or services that help the person work. For example, if the SSI recipient needs a wheelchair, the wages used to pay for the wheelchair do not count as income when SSI decides whether the person qualifies for SSI.

    Also, Social Security does not count any wages a blind person uses for work expenses. For example, if a blind person uses wages to pay for transportation to and from work, the wages used to pay the transportation cost are not counted as income.

    If the person is disabled or blind, some of the income may be used
    (or saved) for training or to buy things the SSI recipient needs to work may not count.

ALLOWABLE RESOURCES FOR ELIGIBILITY

Resources that SSI counts in deciding whether a person qualifies for SSI include real estate, bank accounts, cash, stocks and bonds.

You may be able to get SSI if  resources are worth no more than $2,000. A couple may be able to get SSI if they have resources worth no more than
$3,000. If the SSI applicant owns real property (other than the residence) that he or she is trying to sell, he or she may be able to get SSI while trying to sell it.

Social Security does not count everything one owns in deciding whether the person has too many resources to qualify for SSI. For example, SSI does not count:

  • The home the person lives in and the land it is on;
     
  • Life insurance policies with a face value of $1,500 or less;
     
  • A car (usually);
     
  • Burial plots for the SSI recipient and members of the SSI recipient’s immediate family; and
     
  • Up to $1,500 in burial funds for the SSI recipient and up to $1,500 in burial funds for the SSI recipient’s spouse.

OTHER RULES FOR ELIGIBILITY

To get SSI, the applicant must live in the U.S. or the Northern Mariana Islands and be a U.S. citizen or national.  In some cases, noncitizen residents can qualify for SSI.

A person living in certain types of institutions, may get SSI.

  • If the applicant lives in a city or county rest home, halfway house or other public institution, the person usually cannot get SSI. But there are some exceptions.
     
    • If the applicant lives in a publicly operated community residence that serves no more than 16 people, the applicant may get SSI.
       
    • If the applicant lives in a public institution mainly to attend approved educational or job training to help the applicant get a job, the applicant may get SSI.

Jay J. Sangerman, PLLC
171 East 84th Street - Unit 21B
New York, New York 10165
Telephone (212) 922-0711
Facsimile (212) 439-0056
 

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