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Supplemental Security Income (SSI) FAQs

Common SSI Questions

Q. What Are the Requirements to Receive SSI Benefits?

Keep in mind that Supplemental Security Income (SSI) differs from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Unlike SSDI, you do not have to have a certain amount of work history to receive benefits. In order to qualify for SSI benefits, you must have little or no income and meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • You’re 65 or older.
  • You have a qualifying disability, according to the SSA’s definition of “disabled.”
  • You’re blind.

Q. Are There Income Requirements for SSI?

Yes. Because SSI is a needs-based disability program, your income and assets must fall under the SSA’s strict limits, in addition to having a qualifying disability. If your “countable income” exceeds $783 for individuals and $1,175 a month for a married couple, you will likely not be eligible for SSI. Keep in mind that these numbers do fluctuate every year, but the income limit is usually around this range.

When referring to SSI, the following financial resources and assets that have a monetary value count towards the income limit:

  • Money earned from a job, self-employment, or any other type of work
  • Income from investments
  • Social Security benefits
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Veteran’s benefits
  • Gifts or resources from family or friends, including a free place to live
  • Checking and savings accounts
  • Property other than the home you live in
  • Vehicles other than the one you drive
  • Commercial rental property

Q. What Are Qualifying Conditions for SSI Benefits?

SSI is a needs-based program, so benefits are available to individuals who have little to no work history. As such, disabled children and intellectually and/or emotionally disabled adults often qualify for SSI benefits. Applicants must be able to show that they have one of the many qualifying disabilities in order to receive SSI.

The SSA’s Blue Book lists the conditions, as well as the medical evidence necessary for proving these conditions, that qualify for SSI benefits. However, if your specific condition isn’t listed in the Blue Book, the SSA may still determine that you’re eligible for benefits if they can match the severity of your condition to another one already listed.

Q. Can Non-Citizens Receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Qualifying for disability benefits under SSI as a non-citizen is complex. In addition to meeting the basic medical and technical requirements, the SSA states that you must also:

  • Be a “qualified alien”
  • Meet one of the predefined “conditions” or circumstances for eligibility

To be considered a “qualified alien,” non-citizens must meet one of the following:

  • You’re a Lawfully Admitted Permanent Resident (LAPR) of the United States.
  • You’re an immigrant conditionally admitted to the U.S. before April 1, 1980
  • Certain refugees or individuals that have been granted asylum
  • Some survivors of human trafficking
  • Under specific circumstances, you’re a parolee in the U.S. for a period of one year or more
  • You’re a Haitian or Cuban non-citizen who was granted admittance to the U.S. under the Refugee Education and Assistance Act of 1980

Q. Will My Spouse’s Income Affect My Benefits?

Most likely. If you’re married, the SSA will calculate your SSI benefits as a married person and a portion of any income your spouse makes will also be considered yours. This can affect your eligibility or reduce the amount of benefits you’re entitled to each month.