The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers Supplemental Security Income or SSI to disabled individuals who have never worked or do not qualify for Social Security disability benefits. SSI is available to those who are disabled under SSA guidelines, over the age 65 or blind, as well as children with qualifying physical or mental impairments. Nonetheless, SSI is subject to strict income and asset limits which makes obtaining these benefits difficult.
Peña & Bromberg, PLC routinely represents disabled individuals in Central Valley, California and throughout the Nation. We have extensive experience helping our clients obtain the SSI benefits they deserve.
SSI Income Limits
The income limit for SSI eligibility is based on the federal benefit rate or FBR which combines the SSI income limit and the maximum monthly SSI payment for individual and couples. This rate increases each year if there is a Social Security cost of living adjustment. Generally, your monthly income cannot exceed the FBR.
In short, the following is counted as income by the SSA:
- Money earned as a result of performing work (“earned income”)
- Payments from other benefit programs or sources such as Social Security, veterans benefits, a pension, alimony, or child support (“unearned income”)
- Rent, shelter or food benefits from a nongovernmental source, such as living rent free with a friend or relative (“in-kind income”)
- A portion of income earned by other people in the same household, such as as spouse (“deemed income”)
The SSA’s determination of “countable” income is complicated, however, because only a portion of your income is included. If you have earnings from work, for example, the SSA counts less than half of those earnings toward the monthly income limit. This means that you may still be eligible even if your income exceeds the monthly limit.
Moreover, the SSA excludes certain income and benefits in its income determination, including, but not limited to:
- $20 per month of unearned income
- $65 per month of earned income and one-half of earned income over $65
- Medical care
- Reimbursed expenses from a social services agency
- Food stamps
- Housing or home energy assistance
SSI Asset Limits
Supplemental Security Income or SSI is basically designed for disabled individuals who have limited financial resources. Generally, the asset limit for SSI eligibility is $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a married couple.
The $2,000 threshold also applies to children. For a child under the age of 18 who lives with one parent, the resources of the parent or his or her spouse are “deemed” by the SSA. The first $2,000 of the parents total resources, or $3,000 if the child lives with two parents, are not counted by the SSA. Assets that exceed these amounts are counted by the SSA toward the child’s $2,000 limit.
In short, resources include:
- Checking or savings accounts
- Cash value in life insurance policies greater than $1,500
- Stocks and bonds
- Household goods and personal effects greater than $2,000
- Motor vehicles (more than one)
- Real estate (non-owner occupied)
However, certain assets are not included in the SSI resource limit, including but limited to:
- A home – must be the principal residence
- A car – one motor vehicle is excluded from the asset limit
- Wedding rings and engagement rings
- Income set aside for SSI “PASS” savings
- Burial Savings
- State or local relocation assistance payments
- Earned income tax credit payments
- Grants, scholarships, fellowships or gifts for tuition and educational expenses
- Child tax credit payments
If your resources exceed the SSI asset limits, you are ineligible and will get what is known as a “technical denial” of benefits from the SSA.
What is a State Supplement?
Most states, including California, add funds to the SSI payment, or what is known as a state supplement. In these states, the maximum monthly income limit, and SSI payments, are higher than the federal limit. The amount of this supplement varies from state to state, in a range from $10 to $400. Additionally, the amount of the state supplement depends on your marital status and living arrangements. In this regard, the supplement may only be paid to someone who is single or living in a nursing home.
California Supplemental Security Income Attorney
At Peña & Bromberg, PLC, we are keenly aware that obtaining SSI benefits is vital for those who have limited financial resources. At the same time, we are all too familiar with the obstacles disabled individuals face when seeking these benefits. Our highly skilled disability benefits attorneys will offer you compassion and knowledge and help you navigate the Social Security system.
We will work closely with you to evaluate your income and assets, and guide you through the application process. If you claim is denied, we are fully prepared to handle an appeal on your behalf. We have a proven track record of helping our clients obtain the benefits that they deserve. If you or a loved one needs assistance applying for SSI or your claim has been denied, call our office today for a free consultation or complete the contact form on our website.
Located in Fresno, Peña & Bromberg, PLC serves clients throughout Central Valley California including San Francisco Bay, Oakland, Bakersfield, Madera, Stockton, Fresno, Sacramento, & Modesto. The office assists Social Security Disability and Veterans Disability clients nationwide. Member – National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR).