The Supplemental Security Income program is offered by the U.S. federal government for qualified individuals. SSI is offered to U.S. residents who are unable to earn a living wage and have not made enough income to be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI.

The SSI plan is based only on need combined with the inability to earn a living. Applicants can qualify without having earned any money. In contrast, SSDI benefits are paid based on how much money the individual has made in total so far.

An SSI attorney will answer questions from people interested in applying. These lawyers also represent clients whose applications have been denied or ended by the Administration.

Who Qualifies for SSI Benefits?

SSI benefits are often paid to young adults who will likely never be able to make enough money to live without assistance. They have serious physical or mental conditions. Others become disabled at a relatively young age before they have spent enough time in the workforce to qualify for SSDI.

SSI Restrictions

Since SSI is completely need-based, it has more restrictive income and asset requirements compared with SSDI. Recipients may want to make some money if they can, but the Administration does not allow them to build up savings or a retirement account. The benefits are supposed to be supplemental only and for immediate needs, such as rent, utility payments, and food. 

People receiving SSDI can contribute as much as they want to savings accounts and a retirement plan. Those receiving SSI, however, are restricted to a maximum of $2,000 in countable resources. A couple receiving SSI is allowed $3,000 in those resources. Countable resources exclude a variety of assets, such as the home, one vehicle, and personal belongings.

To qualify for SSI, the applicant must grant the Administration access to the viewing of bank accounts as long as benefits are being paid. That includes both savings and checking accounts as well as other programs like a Christmas club.

Possible Misconceptions 

A benefits recipient who is unclear about the savings limit might continue depositing money in those accounts. If more savings are accumulated than are allowed, this person will eventually receive notification that his or her SSI benefits are ending. Hiring an SSI attorney may be necessary to resolve the problem.

There are many other examples of how a social security lawyer can help. For more information on your social security benefits, contact an SSI attorney near you.