Eligibility Criteria for SSI Benefits
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program that is funded by regular taxes and run by the Federal government. SSI benefits are meant for the blind, the disabled and the aged who have little or no income.
Eligibility criteria for SSI Benefits?
The following persons would qualify for SSI Benefits:
- A person who is 65 years or older
- A person who is blind
- A person who is disabled as defined by the Social Security Administration
The person must also:
- Have filed for SSI
- Have limited or no income
- Have few resources
- Be a citizen of the United States or a legal alien of certain types of categories
- Be a resident of one of the states or territories of the US
- Be present in the country for at least 30 consecutive days
- Not be placed in a government run institution (such as a prison or a hospital)
- Have applied for other social welfare programs such as Social Security Disability, Workers’ Disability, pensions etc.
- Give the Social Security Administration permission to access his or her financial and medical records
If you wish to know whether you would qualify for SSI benefits, you can also take the Benefits Eligibility Screening Test online.
How can I apply for SSI Benefits?
You can apply for your SSI benefits in various ways:
- You call the Social Security Administration toll-free helpline at 1-800-772-1213 and make an appointment to apply for SSI benefits either telephonically or personally at the SSA office that is nearest to you
- If you are hearing impaired, then you can use the SSA’s TTY service at 1-800-325-0778 to make your appointment to apply for SSI benefits.
- If you cannot call or make an appointment for yourself, you can ask for someone to help you
- You can also just directly go to the Social Security Administration office that is closest to you without an appointment. However, be prepared to wait some time for your turn
When should I apply for my SSI Benefits?
Ideally, you should apply as soon as possible. And here’s a little tip. Don’t wait till you file your application. You can contact the Social Security Administration office in advance and let them know that you will be applying for SSI benefits. The date you inform the SSA that you are applying is called the date of entitlement. If it is earlier than the date when you file your application, then that is the time from when your SSI benefits will be awarded to you – if your claim is approved, that is.
Here is how the process works:
If you call the SSA and make an appointment to file for SSI benefits, then that first contact is taken as your date of entitlement. You then have 60 days within which to file you application. If you do not keep that appointment, the SSA will attempt to contact you to reschedule your appointment. If they are unable to connect with you, they will send you a letter. Itinforms you that if you file an application within 60 days of having received the letter, then your original date of entitlement will still hold.
If you are in a government funded institution (like prison or a hospital), then you may not apply for SSI benefits until you leave. However, there is a provision for you to apply before you leave the institution, but you need to check with the institution you are in and also contact the SSA to understand how you can make use of the pre-release procedure.
What are my rights?
As a citizen of the US (or even a legal alien under certain circumstances), you have the right to:
- Apply for SSI; anyone can apply for these benefits and there is no cost for applying
- Get help from the SSA if you qualify
- Get an advocate/attorney to represent you
- Receive notices of any changes or decisions taken with regard to your SSI benefits
- Examine your own file