Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is the primary source of income for many disabled Americans. Unfortunately, many persons in need of SSI don’t meet the income and asset requirements of the program. In order to receive SSI benefits, in addition to satisfying the age or disability requirements of the Social Security program, an SSI applicant must also meet various financial requirements. Currently, SSI applicants may not have no more than $2,000 to their name at any given time and meet income limitations, as well.
The National Council on Disability, in a letter to the White House, recently requested that the asset limitation be increased from $2,000 – a limit that has been in place since 1989 – to $10,000 with continued inflation increases. The agency also requested that adjustments be made to the way that SSI benefits are impacted by other income sources, including job wages.
“SSI beneficiaries face the most severe levels of poverty of any group of Social Security beneficiaries,” Jeff Rosen, Chair of the National Council on Disability, wrote in his letter to the President. “We urge you to incorporate common-sense program reforms to SSI designed to improve beneficiary well-being and enhance the ability of SSI beneficiaries to participate in the workforce.”
Since the U.S. economic decline began in 2007, the number of people seeking disability benefits has continued to rise. The number of disability applicants surged to a record high of 2.94 million in 2010 and has held steady at more than 18 per 1,000 workers in each of the past three years. The most recent figures indicate that the number of workers collecting disability benefits hit a new record high of 8,827,795 in December 2012, which was up from 8,805,353 in November 2012.
According to Rosen, the need for changes to the SSI program is particularly imminent given the number of persons with disabilities who have been disproportionately impacted by the sequester and other federal budget cuts. The Council also urged President Obama to make is easier for persons with disabilities to maintain Medicaid coverage even if their income rises or they move out-of-state.
SSI is a separately funded program that is not dependent on Social Security contributions. Accordingly, even if a person has not worked long enough to qualify for SSI, he or she may be eligible for SSI payments if the financial requirements are met. Some types of assets and income are excluded when determining financial eligibility, including the value of an applicant’s home, grants and scholarships, income tax refunds, and financial assistance received from charities.
The Chicago SSI lawyers at Ankin Law Office, LLC are dedicated to helping persons with disabilities obtain the compensation and benefits to which they are entitled. We can assist you with every step of the social security disability claim process, including determining SSI eligibility, managing the claim application process, assembling the necessary information, representing you at the Social Security disability hearing, and appealing a claim denial, if necessary.