Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is designed to help people who are disabled, blind, or aged 65 or older and are in need financially. Unlike Social Security disability, SSI does not require that a person have worked a certain number of years to qualify.
Qualifying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in Florida
To qualify for SSI, a person must be blind, disabled, or at least 65 years of age. In addition to the age and/or disability requirement, the Social Security Administration will consider:
Income: The income cut-off for SSI varies depending on where you live. However, simply learning that number won’t immediately tell you whether or not you meet income requirements. Social Security doesn’t take all income into account when determining eligibility. Instead, a rather complicated analysis is applied. For example:
- Some income is excluded (not counted), but the amount depends on the type of income
- Costs associated with adaptations necessary to work are deducted from income
- Some shelter and other direct support is considered income, but some types are not
- A portion of parental income is considered for applicants under the age of 18
Resources: Financial eligibility depends not just on income, but also on other resources. Some examples include real estate, bank accounts and stocks. Certain types of property are generally not counted, including:
- The home you live in
- Your car
- Burial plots
Generally, an individual may have up to $2,000 in assets and a couple up to $3,000 and still qualify for SSI. There are also special provisions for property you are trying to sell, such as a plot of land that has been listed with a real estate agent.
Other Benefits: If you are eligible for other benefits, you must apply for them. In some cases, you will qualify for SSI in addition to other benefits you may receive, or may receive other benefits in addition to SSI.
Your Living Arrangements: Generally, you can’t qualify for SSI if you are in prison, live in a halfway house, or reside in some other type of public institution. However, there are exceptions, which may involve very specific questions such as the number of residents, the duration of your stay or the percentage of your expenses paid by Medicaid.
If You are Denied SSI Benefits
If you are denied SSI benefits, you have the right to appeal, and you have a right to be represented in the appeal process.
Your first step will be to file a Request for Reconsideration. This request simply triggers a second assessment by a different reviewer in the same agency.
If that fails, the next step is to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). It is at this stage (and beyond) that many applicants determine that it would be helpful to have an experienced SSI lawyer guide them through the process. The process grows increasingly complex from this point forward, and qualified people may find themselves denied benefits simply because they did not know how to properly assemble and present the evidence that might have persuaded the ALJ or federal judge.
Talk to a Florida SSI Lawyer Before You Take the Next Step
If you’ve been denied SSI benefits and want to fight for your rights, you don’t have to handle it on your own. Call us at 1-800-253-5523 or fill out the form on this page to schedule a free consultation.