Who Is Eligible For Supplemental Security Income Benefits?
Supplemental Security Income is one of the programs administered through the Social Security Administration providing financial relief for individuals who are blind or disabled and with limited income and financial resources. What you may not realize about SSI, is that anyone who is 65 years of age or older and in financial need may be eligible for benefits even though they do not meet the medical requirement of being disabled or blind.
The information that follows about who is eligible for Supplemental Security Income should help to eliminate any confusion or misunderstanding you may have about the program. Of course, answers to any questions or concerns you have about SSI or other benefit programs can be addressed by the knowledgeable disability advocates at Scully Disability Law.
Who is eligible for SSI?
SSI is available to adults and children who are blind or disabled, as well as adults 65 years of age and older. Individuals must meet the financial requirements of having only limited incomes and owning resources of limited value.
Eligibility guidelines also include a requirement that those applying for benefits must be U.S. citizens or nationals. There are, however, certain categories of qualified aliens who may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income benefits if they satisfy specific conditions.
What is a qualified alien?
The following seven categories of aliens have been designated as “qualified” by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security:
- Individuals with AM-1 through AM-8 class of admission lawfully admitted for permanent residence.
- Individuals are granted conditional entry to the U.S. under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
- Individuals paroled into the U.S. for at least one year under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
- Refugees admitted into the U.S. under the INA.
- Individuals granted INA asylum.
- Individuals whose deportation or removal has been withheld under the provisions of the INA.
- Individuals admitted under the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980 as Cuban or Haitian entrants.
The SSA may deem you to be a qualified alien if you, your child, or a parent was the victim while in the U.S. of battery or extreme cruelty inflicted by another member of the family.
Someone qualified or deemed qualified must meet the medical or age and financial requirements imposed on U.S. citizens and nationals in addition to at least one of the following conditions:
- You were lawfully residing in and receiving SSI on Aug. 22, 1996.
- You have 40 qualifying quarters of earnings and are lawfully admitted for permanent residence.
- You currently serve on active duty in the U.S. military or have been honorably discharged for reasons other than the fact you are an alien.
- You are blind or disabled and were lawfully residing in the U.S. on Aug. 22, 1996.
The list of conditions you may be able to meet is rather extensive, so you may wish to review it with a Scully Disability Law representative to identify the ones that may apply to you.
Where you live may affect eligibility
There is a residency requirement to qualify for SSI. Adults must live and intend to remain in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia or the Northern Mariana Islands. Special residency rules apply to children.
Children applying for SSI may do so even if they do not currently live in the geographic areas previously mentioned provided the parent or parents they live with are on active duty with the U.S. military with a permanent duty station outside of the U.S. Students living overseas as part of an educational program meet the residency requirements as long as their studies outside the U.S. are temporary.
People who are not eligible for Supplemental Security Income
Various situations that people find themselves in may affect their eligibility for SSI until their circumstances change. Examples offered by SSA of some of those situations include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Individuals with an outstanding felony or arrest warrant for escape from custody, fleeing prosecution or confinement, or flight.
- Inmates while in prison, jail, detention center, halfway house, or other forms of incarceration or confinement.
- Someone residing in an institution operated by an agency of the federal state or local government.
- Individuals receiving SSI benefits who leave the U.S. for 30 consecutive days or more.
Individuals who become ineligible to receive benefits because of being absent from the U.S. for at least 30 consecutive days may reestablish their eligibility by returning and remaining in the country for at least 30 consecutive days.
When questions about eligibility arise, talk to a disability advocate
The regulations and process to determine whether someone is eligible for Supplemental Security Income benefits can be difficult to understand and interpret. When you need the help of a trained, knowledgeable disability expert to apply for benefits or to challenge a determination affecting your eligibility, contact Scully Disability Law.