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On a federal level, two cash assistance programs for qualified disabled individuals are administered and managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA). These programs are Supplemental Security Income or SSI and Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI. These two programs are similar in some respects.
However, they differ regarding the eligibility criteria and the application processes. People with disabilities and blindness with incomes and resources below certain limits can receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Individuals over the age of 65 who meet the financial qualifications for SSI are also eligible to receive payments even if they are not disabled.
Although both programs have similar medical requirements, SSDI payments are only provided to individuals who meet the medical requirements that prevent them from working or are making it difficult for them to work. Additionally, their disabling conditions must have lasted for at least 12 months, or they might be expected to die as a result of their disabilities.
Individuals are considered to be blind by the SSA under both programs if their vision is less than 20/200 or if it is not possible for them to see more than 20 degrees with one of their eyes. The disability may still be considered by the SSA even if the person's sight isn't poor enough to qualify as blind.
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Disabilities That Qualify For SSI
The administering authority for the SSI program is the SSA, which has very strict disability standards in place to determine the eligibility of SSI claimants by listing out what disabilities qualify for SSI. This ensures that individuals who fall short of these standards and requirements by even a slight margin will not qualify.
Due to the needs-based nature of the SSI program, it is available only to individuals whose incomes and resources are limited. People who receive SSI payments are most likely to be blind or disabled. Disability benefits may be available to you if you suffer from many physical or psychological conditions. The following 14 different categories of conditions are classified as disabilities by the Social Security Administration.
- Musculoskeletal Disorders (Sections 1.01 - 1.23)
- Special Senses and Speech (Sections 2.01 - 2.11)
- Respiratory Disorders (Sections 3.01 - 3.14)
- Cardiovascular System (Sections 4.01 - 4.12)
- Digestive System (Sections 5.01 - 5.09)
- Genitourinary Disorders (Sections 6.01 - 6.09)
- Hematological Disorders (Sections 7.01 - 7.18)
- Skin Disorders (Sections 8.01 - 8.08)
- Endocrine Disorders (Sections 9.00)
- Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems (Sections 10.01 - 10.06)
- Neurological Disorders (Sections 11.01 - 11.22)
- Mental Disorders (Sections 12.01 - 12.15)
- Cancer (Malignant Neoplastic Diseases) (Sections 13.01 - 12.29)
- Immune System Disorders (Sections 14.01 - 14.11)
SSI interviews can be tricky and difficult for first time SSI applicants. Read our detailed article on what to expect during your first SSI interview.
Important SSI Disability Statistics
- In 2021, the largest number of people between 60-64 receiving SSI payments were as follows:
- As of 2021, the following are the top disorders for which SSI payments were made to recipients between the ages of 60 and 64:
- With 298,754 people receiving disability benefits, mental health was the biggest disability category.
- The second largest number of claims were for musculoskeletal and connective tissue conditions, affecting 255,687 recipients between 60 and 64 years old.
- There were 65,317 beneficiaries with circulatory diseases, the third largest group.
- The number of SSI beneficiaries in the United States reached over 6 million in February 2023.
- In 2023, individuals and couples can receive a maximum monthly benefit of $914 and $1,371, respectively.
- SSI beneficiaries received an average benefit of $677 per month in January 2023.
- SSI payments averaged $553.94 a month for people 65 and older.
SSI Eligibility Criteria
The eligibility criteria for SSI determine the qualification of the claimants on the basis of their age, income, and the resources they possess.
Adults who are seeking SSI benefits must:
- Have a disability, are 65 or older, or are blind
- Be living on a limited income
- Their resources are limited
- They are residents of the United States, US nationals, and sometimes non-US citizens.
The following are the requirements children seeking SSI should fulfill to qualify for SSI.
- Have an age under 18
- Their symptoms are severe enough to prevent them from living normally for a period of 12 months or more or could result in the loss of their life.
- Be one of the many people who live in a household with limited resources and income
- For more information, you can visit the SSA’s 'SSI for children’ page.
SSI benefits are available to people who have limited resources and income. As shown in the sections below, SSI is available to people with incomes and resources up to a certain level. Each of the sections below may have exclusions related to income and resources.
Income refers to any amount of money received by an individual that can be used to buy food or shelter. Regarding SSI, income includes any item that can be used to meet basic needs, either directly or through sale or conversion. Any free or low-cost food or shelter you receive is considered to be a part of your income. The following income levels are applicable for SSI.
- Employed individuals making under $1,913 per month before the deduction of taxes. The same amount, after subtracting business costs) is applicable to self-employed individuals.
- Working or self-employed couples who make under $2,827 a month before the deduction of taxes (for employed couples) or after subtracting business costs (for self-employed couples).
- It may still be possible for you to receive SSI benefits if you have a disability and other work-related expenses.
- Any income you receive in the form of pensions or gifts should be under $934 a month for individuals and under $1,391 for couples.
If you are applying individually, your resources (which you own) should not exceed $2,000 to qualify for SSI. Couples with assets worth less than $3,000 may qualify for SSI. The SSA does not consider all of your possessions when determining if you qualify for SSI. You don't have to include your house if you live there; your vehicle is usually excluded. Stocks, bonds, and bank accounts are all counted.
Applying For SSI
There are two main ways in which you can apply for SSI. You can either choose to apply directly with help from the SSA or opt for the online application.
Apply Via SSA
One of the easiest ways to apply for SSI benefits is directly through the Social Security Administration. This option is available for people who need help with the application process. You can start by scheduling an appointment with SSA for your benefits claim. You may request an appointment for yourself or someone else. SSA representatives can answer your queries, explain the documents required, and assist you in completing your application.
In order to book an appointment with SSA, you'll be required to provide the following information.
- For applying for SSI benefits yourself:
- Your full name
- Your date of birth
- Your Social Security number
- Your current mailing address
- Your working phone number
- Your email address
- If you are helping someone else apply for SSI:
- Your full name
- Your working phone number
- Your email address
Making An Appointment With SSA
You have two options if you would like to schedule an appointment with the Social Security Administration.
- Apply online by filling out the request form.
- Contact the SSA by phone to schedule an appointment by calling them at 1-800-772-1213 or their TTY at 1-800-325-0778 if you are deaf or have limited hearing.
Submit an Online Application
Applications for SSA appointments can be submitted online. You should be clear about online application requirements, the information you might be required to submit, and what documents you’ll need to have at hand to successfully submit your application before getting started. You can choose one of the following two options when opting for an online application.
- You can submit an online application for SSI claimants aged between 18 and 64 years old.
- Alternatively, you have the option to submit an online application for SSI claimants who are children or under the age of 18.
A representative of the SSA will likely contact you later after you have submitted your information.
To determine what disabilities qualify for SSI, the SSA has a detailed list of disorders and conditions that can qualify an individual to be disabled and eligible for SSI assistance. SSI is available to adults and children based on their limited income and resources. To apply for SSI, you can seek SSA's help during the application process or apply online on your own.
Waiting for the outcome of your Social Security disability application can be a nerve-racking time. Visit Disability Help and check out our article on what to expect regarding your Social Security disability decision letter.