A physical and/or mental disability presents a number of challenges for the individuals who have them and the family members who care for or depend on them. Disabilities not only limit one’s normal physical ability to move and perform ordinary everyday tasks, they also carry costs that can seriously put a dent on one’s finances. To provide support for individuals with disabilities, the U.S. government offers assistance in the form of the Supplemental Security Income.
What is the SSI?
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is funded by the U.S. Treasury but managed by the Social Security Administration. Its primary purpose is to provide regular stipends to individuals who are aged or suffer from certain disabilities, and belong to the low-income group. To start receiving benefits, individuals must meet the minimum qualifications set. The eligibility requirements are:
1. Citizenship/Residency Status
Individuals must be legal residents in any one of the 50 states, the Northern Mariana Islands and the District of Columbia; or,
Individuals must be a child of American parents on permanent duty in a country or region outside the U.S.; or
U.S. students temporarily studying in another country (some restrictions may apply).
Note: Non-U.S. citizens may be eligible for the benefit provided they meet the requirements under the category for qualified aliens.
Individuals must be at least 65 years old, if applying without physical/mental disabilities.
3. Income and Resources
Individuals must have a source of income that is below the limit set by the state where they live. Certain limits are also set in terms of the individual’s house or living arrangements, the type of the income he or she is receiving and how many people he or she is living with.
4. Physical Disability and/or Mental Impairment
Physical and/or mental impairment must be proven, so the individual or a representative must be able to provide evidence if necessary. The disability must either be permanent or expected to last a minimum of 12 months. Any disability that may result in the individual’s death may also qualify him or her.
One of the most basic rules of proving a disability is that it should be such that it will prevent the person from doing gainful work. It must be diagnosed medically, in that it can be checked and identified by doctors. In most cases, a person is required to submit medical records, certificates and statements from medical professionals and facilities when applying for SSI benefits.
Physical and Mental Disabilities Covered by Supplemental Security Income
Blindness, illnesses and injuries are generally accepted as disabilities that qualify under the SSI guidelines. There are also certain chronic illnesses that may be covered as well, especially if the symptoms have worsened or are expected to worsen in the coming years. Individuals who have these illnesses and conditions may become eligible even if they did not become disabled or impaired initially. Provided that the condition is severe enough to interfere significantly with work activities, a claim may be made.
Applying For SSI Benefits
A person must apply for SSI disability benefits at the soonest time possible, such as immediately after an injury or illness. Applications may be submitted by the individual or the legal representative of the individual in the case of a child under 18. The application may be done online, in person at the local office of the Social Security, or through a toll-free telephone number provided by the SSA.
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Article written by Nasir Swanson