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What is SSI?

Parents of children with disabilities can apply for SSI.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 25 July 2014
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Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a US federal program that can help give financial aid to those with disabilities. It is not the same as receiving disability pay. Normally, one may be eligible for disability payments if one has worked for 12 months prior to the disability occurring, and the disability is expected to last for a year, or result in death. SSI, on the other hand, does not require that a person ever work prior to receiving it.

Part of SSI funds are distributed to children with significant disabilities, like severe mental retardation, blindness, cancer or heart defects. Children who receive payments do so based on their parents’ income level. The child or adult receiving the money must also be a US citizen and have a Social Security number.

Permanently disabled adults may also receive this income without needing to work prior to qualifying. Amounts tend to be capped at a relatively low amount each month, but this may vary, and payments are also increased slightly on a yearly basis. Income requirements for eligibility tend to go up as well. Disabled adults may also be able to work a few hours a week and still qualify for some money, but the amount one can earn when considered disabled varies and should be verified with the Social Security Administration.

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One of the useful aspects of qualifying for SSI is that it also makes a person eligible for state medical insurance, which is generically referred to as Medicaid. In California, state aid is called Medi-Cal. The person can also hold private medical insurance, and this does not affect his or her eligibility for Medicaid. Even if he or she only receives a few dollars a month, the individual is typically fully eligibile for state aid. This can cover things like co-payments or provide full insurance if one is uninsured, but finding practitioners who take state funded medical benefits may be challenging. Those who live near state university hospitals often find that this is the best place to go for medical care, as they are obligated to take Medicaid.

While some medical conditions can automatically prove a medical condition severe enough to receive SSI, at other times, conditions must be proven as truly disabling. Those with mental illnesses severe enough to warrant not working may need to undergo state psychiatric examination in order to qualify. Further, conditions that are expected to improve may require yearly review.

If one spouse works and the other receives SSI, or a child receives payments, the family is generally required to file an income report each month. This usually simply involves sending in pay stubs to prove income. Payment amounts can change if the amount a person earns changes. Even if a person were to work a few hours of overtime, a monthly amount could change, either slightly or significantly.

To apply for SSI, a person must fill out applications available at the Social Security Administration office in his or her town. If a child is suddenly disabled, or is born with disabilities, hospital social workers may also have applications on hand and can help with filing. An approved application allows for the person to receive funds from the filing date of the application, so filling out and filing the application promptly can help one receive back benefits that can be of tremendous assistance.

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Discuss this Article

anon939723
Post 60

Stop worrying about other people lives. Some people sound like jealous, bitter losers. They need to stop stressing about why so and so is getting SSI. It will not affect their life in any way. They need to cut it out and focus on why they're resentful and envious.

anon939526
Post 59

I met this woman, we started to date and a couple months down the road she says she gets disability for memory loss due to an abusive boyfriend, yet she goes to college and gets a lot of grants and other free money. She's an A student full time. She's playing the system, and now the system will get you.

anon924676
Post 58

People should be more thankful for what they get. Yes, we all need more money but look at it this way: the money we get is given to us. I am thankful for SSI. I got mine in three weeks. Why? Because I was and am sick.

No one chooses to be sick. It happens, but we can choose not to sit around and get lazy. Go out and do things, donate your time. Do some little jobs, learn something new. Do not say oh, I am disabled. I cannot do this or that. Never mention the word disabled. Stay strong and be happy with or without the things you want.

anon357112
Post 57

Facts: I was stalked by a partner for over a year and he nearly killed me. Since their name was on the title to my home, boat, RV, rental income and bank accounts, I could not get anyone to believe me about the years of abuse or the threats to my life. It was hell living with my cats and small dog trying to find a safe place and threats coming daily by phone or notes left on my car. Two TROs didn't help. I was a public figure and was unable to work due to the threat to my life. I was told no one would believe it since they were older and had a family support system and friends to intimidate me as they had for years.

I knew that I had to leave the country because the new RV allowed this abuser who threatened to kill me to travel anywhere in the USA to find me to finish the job. I had to arrange the move after the house was sold, taking a large loss since no one in my family or even my lawyer would believe my situation, even though I had a body guard to protect me when this abuser came into my home to gather their clothes.

I lost so much weight from the stress, knowing they could break in and kill me anytime. It was torture for a year and before the house sold, their family came and took all my furniture and appliances in two trucks while a friend stayed with me in my room while I was shaking.

I developed PTSD from this and went to Europe for a few years, where I was able to work in my trade and get stronger. Upon returning to the USA, I was in an airplane accident in flight that damaged my spine and my health insurance was suspended when I was out of the country so I had to fly back to Europe since I had insurance to cover some of the treatments until the US military lawyers told me to get a lawyer to cover the costs. I did that and after returning again to the USA, I had no home to live in but my friend's family gave me a temporary place.

Then that year, I moved down closer to my family in Southern California when I was broadsided in my car. The airplane accident had not even settled, but the hospital bills got higher and I had no ability to make income either, so I finally applied for food stamps and didn't know I could call in as I was in great pain. I waited in the long lines that day. I nearly passed out from the pain. The doctors shook their heads when the following year, I was hospitalized again with a torn stomach lining where blood gushed out of my mouth, filling up the toilet and my skin turned grey. I know this from what my elderly aunt told me. She was the only family member who came to help when the ambulance took me to the hospital. So I developed anemia and high hypertension and (as a hypoglycemic, the cheapest food I could afford) finally from poor diet from diabetes. The doctor wrote a letter to confirm my inability to walk or sit longer than five minutes at a time. This letter helped when I applied for SSI but then my food stamps were stopped and the SSI and State supplement did not cover the entire cost of my rent, food, clothing, etc., but I did get a hearing with a judge on the phone who said this is the law in California.

Even though living in certain areas costs more than in other areas, they do not adjust for that at all. If you get SSI, then you could not get the food stamps (worth $200 a month). Those food stamps do not cover paper products like toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, gas for the car and other essentials for the handicapped or disabled, either. SSI was not enough to pay my rent. I'm already renting in a poor area in the county and it wasn’t enough, or with utilities and phone or the net since I can't travel far, being disabled and handicapped to pay my bills either.

My family seems not to want to be involved since I once was very successful and they blamed me for trusting someone who was untrustworthy and making the choices I did for what has happened to me in the accidents that were not my fault. They seemed to be settled by lawyers who made two-thirds of their income, leaving me in debt. I can't do anything but thank God I am alive. I am able to see the good in being able to share what I've survived anonymously since I'm a public music professional figure. I don’t want sympathy and I’m trying to tell anyone that there is a way if you just keep faith in God who never abandons you. There are times I don't know where my next money will come from to pay bills and I've not bought clothes because food seems more important than clothing.

There are people in Europe who know and can't understand the American system, but I'm happy when they send cash to buy my food. I can't move easily enough to go out to anyplace anymore and soon will need more help just to get out of bed, but I’m sure that day will come too. My old 18 year old cat does comfort me many times I cry from how things ended up. When I read the messages here on this page, I do understand the pain of others. I do know I am blessed as I am able to still write and share.

God bless everyone who does share. It's important. Be well, find peace and know you are cared for even by those who you don't know and read your words. Thank you!

anon319606
Post 52

I've been getting SSI for nine years. I am bipolar and been hospitalized more than three times. I tried holding a job and had a major breakdown. I cry every day. I had a bad car accident. I got physically hurt and shocked others when I survived.

To occupy myself, I took classes at school. It took me eight years to get an AA degree. After the car accident, I was so messed up I stopped my meds cold turkey. I ended up back in the psych ward for a month. My parents lost their jobs and I lost my health insurance. I stopped seeing my psych doctor. I never knew I had free medical care offered by the state. I couldn't see my psych to get meds. So SSI stopped my check, saying I haven't seen my doctor or taken meds, and therefore I am cured. Also they said, because I got an AA degree, I can work, but due to the car accident, I can work no more than two hours a day. They sent me a CD with jobs I can do and can't do.

They have a job code for a Mexican cook. How racist, because I don't even qualify for that kind of job. I called an SSI lawyer and they won't take my case unless I reapply and then they get $5,000 back pay. I'll tell you what – since I am cured from bipolar and can work, I am going to buy a gun and apply to be a security guard. I am not mentally sick anymore. I am cured. Thank you SSI.

anon305803
Post 51

What happens if case worker makes home visit and finds home and care not good?

anon292394
Post 47

I pray I get my SSI back. It was taken when I married because my husband made "too much." Anyway, that was just four years ago and when we separated, I applied again, and they are making me start from scratch!

I was on SSI for 14 years and I am no better. In fact, since separating, I'm worse. I went to a doctor last week for evaluation and now I can only hope. I can't even go to the doctor or afford my meds, and you people are dissing EBV and other chronic conditions that are debilitating. You know nothing of the daily hell we go through.

anon290654
Post 46

My son has terminal cancer of the brain and is unable to do anything alone. My wife is his 24 hour caregiver because we can not afford to pay for one. Is she eligible to receive compensation from the state of California or federal compensation?

anon289570
Post 45

I know a 25 year old girl who is sponging off the system. She lives with her boyfriend who is 35 and she gets a disability check, she told us, for not being able to read, but yet she has a facebook page that states she speaks spanish and english and she worked at McDonalds and now she is receiving food stamps!

It's an outrage. She told me she flat out doesn't want to work, but yet she has no problems seeing to push a mower or text on a cell phone. She has also said she loves to shop and every week she has new clothes and shoes from hard earned taxpayer money!

anon285996
Post 44

I have a question. I have a friend and she and her husband are separated. He's drawing disability and she's drawing SSI. Can they use the same address even though one isn't living there?

anon284635
Post 43

If you receive other income (including social security disability) or your parent (if a minor) or spouse receives other income and you are found disabled it can affect whether you are eligible for ssi or the amount you can draw.

anon284633
Post 42

What a lot of you don't seem to understand is that the ssi program is basically a welfare benefit that used to be administered by the states until the late 70s or early 80s. The money for these benefits comes out of the general revenue funds, not the social security funds. Regular social security disability is paid from where you worked and paid fica taxes.

As with food stamps and medicaid, you have to be basically needy to get ssi. You also have to be "disabled", age 65 or legally blind.

anon284401
Post 41

I am 48 years old, with 18 years experience in sales and marketing. Now I want to change my life and would like to be a caregiver. Please let me know how to become a caregiver. --Manjula.

anon280869
Post 40

Answer to the question regarding the necessity of using a lawyer: You may need to get a lawyer in order to get SSI because Social Security may improperly deny your claim. In our case, there is a lot of evidence backing up my daughter's eligibility (IQ tests, records from Regional Center, genetic tests, etc.). Some people cannot fill out applications well, so it is easier for Social Security to deny them.

If a child has a verbal IQ of 50, he is eligible, but if he has a verbal IQ of 51, he is ineligible. Someone with Down Syndrome can have a much higher IQ because they have automatic approval, as with people who are blind. It's a complicated system, so people hire lawyers.

anon279831
Post 39

Is there help for ssi people to get a car for appointments?

anon271605
Post 38

How can a lawyer get you something you are not entitled to? Doesn't SSI have certain guideline they have to follow any way? And if you are entitled, why do you need a lawyer? I just don't understand what's going on there. You get turned down, you get a lawyer and you get approved. Its not like you are trying to win a lawsuit or something. Something about getting a lawyer doesn't seem right to me.

fcasias
Post 37

My daughter is 5 years old and she was evaluated at her school and also by her doctor. She was diagnosed with a speech delay. Does she qualify for SSI?

anon266264
Post 35

My dad applied for SSI on a low income basis. He is 67 years old, and still working 15-20 hours per week for $10 an hour. The claim almost passed, but they have asked for some transaction of around #20K from his account in month of July 2010. Actually, he gave me and my wife three checks totalling 20K as he owed me rent, etc.

Is it OK to tell this? He lives with me and pays me $500 rent. Also, we found out that his 401K has 4K in it, and we mentioned $400 because we did not know at that time. SSI people also asked about showing some documents related to the 401K, regarding the balance.

Can we withdraw money from 401K?

anon260915
Post 34

I have a friend who has a son going into the first grade and he has a speech problem, but the school has been working with him and his speech is getting better.

Both parents are able to work they don't have to stay home with the child, but they get $450 in SSI a month on this child.

I also have a friend who hurt his back at work and the doctors say he will never work again but he has been fighting for SSI for about three years now. Why does a child get SSI if the parents can work and the child still goes so school and is not keeping them from working? It makes no sense to me.

anon252066
Post 33

There are people who are on ssi who are not that sick and they have been on ssi for

years, while others are really disabled and cannot get it. What is wrong with the system?

I think people who really need it should get it. The system is really messed up. If you are disabled, you should get it, and you know if you are disabled and cannot work. Nobody has to tell you. You know if you are.

anon228500
Post 32

I've been waiting 5 months just to hear something back to SSI and I have depression, social phobia, and avoidant personality disorder. Plus, thanks to my parents, my highest level of education is the first grade (no kidding), and last month I found out that I'm half blind and just barely legally able to drive.

I'm told I'm still under the third step in the system that I'm told should only last three weeks. Now while they're dragging their feet on my case I'm homeless and have nowhere to go, thanks to these social disorders of mine.

I'm scared to death of being around people longer than one hour or I become a hermit and forget that people need to shower more than once a week. So while I'm worried about having to sleep in the snow, my friend's 6 year old son gets $674 a month while his parents also get the government to pay part of their rent, her parents buy her a new bed, his buys him a car and me, I get told that without children I should learn how to build an igloo. Someone tell me how the system is working the right way because I'm confused.

anon227275
Post 31

I just found out I am medically not able to work and have been put on SSI. I need to find a place to live as I have been living with friends and family for two years. Now I need help asap to find a studio apartment on SSI income.

anon163346
Post 30

i got denied twice and i see these people get ssi that are no more worse then me? Crap! The SSA reason was "you can do jobs in work like conditions". well, time to scam then since they won't pay me.

anon158763
Post 29

Someone here said that people on SSI get free food, gas, etc. Nope! We have to pay for that just like everyone else. In California,where I live, they don't give food stamps to SSI beneficiaries.

"Judge not, lest ye be judged". -Jesus-

anon158460
Post 28

@26: I am sorry for your situation; you deserve to get the help that you

need. However, you are very misinformed if you believe Epstein Barr and depression are minor complaints. Epstein Barr can be the cause of ME, a seriously debilitating neurological disease.

Not only does the sufferer feel immense physical tiredness, as well as pain, amongst a host of other symptoms, also their cognitive function may be grossly impaired. It can destroy decades if not entire lives, as can depression and any other mental illness. I understand your frustration but your ignorant views on other illnesses could cause pain to sufferers. I hope you get some improvement in your circumstances soon.

anon145693
Post 26

Wow. Reading the resentment here is almost chilling. This is a case study all unto itself, viewing posts from those who resent those who get disability or SSI.

I've had a couple of surgeries on my back, and during the last one the doctor damaged the nerves, making it next to impossible to do work for more than 15-20 minutes at a stretch. I can't sleep at nights from the pain (and this is every night.)

Doctors tell me that I cannot bend, twist, stoop or work on my knees, and have actually declared me disabled, but I still cannot get Social Security disability. I've been waiting for coming up on four years now, even having representation from a qualified attorney in the field.

Prior to this I worked for 25 years, paying into this crap as the government requires. Now I need it and can't get it? What's with that? I've lost my house, my car, my dignity, and now live in a cockroach infested three room hovel.

Now there are those who get Social Security Disability for having crazy stuff, like Epstein-Barr (the official "I'm tired" disease) and for depression, and I'm not understanding if people with these fairly minor problems get it, why is it that I, who spends a week sitting in a chair crying in pain if I have to bend over while doing the laundry, (okay, a little exaggeration, but not much) gets nothing but denials when I have a real serious problem?

anon136192
Post 25

Can an American citizen living in a foreign country for six years, still get SSI benefits?

anon134833
Post 24

wonder why you can get SSI and you can afford to have cell phones and buy laptops and i work my butt off and my husband does too, and we can't afford these luxuries.

People younger than we are can draw SSI and food stamps, with free fuel, free food and free medical care.

anon132496
Post 23

I have PTSD, borderline personality disorder, traumatic amnesia, herniated discs in my back and neck that require surgery. I struggle every day. I even have mental health workers coming into my home twice a week to help me yet I have had four denials from SSI.

I have been fighting this for seven years now, and each time a doctor has been the one to initiate it and I still get denied.

The system is screwed up. There are people I know who get it for stupid reasons and yet I cannot get it. The system is screwed up, I think, to be honest.

anon123283
Post 22

@anon121151: if I'm not bad, then why did the mental evaluation doctor for ssa say i should be locked up?

anon121151
Post 21

SSI should be used for what it was intended for. Every time I get angry at someone, does that qualify me for SSI? That question should be no. If I commit myself to a psych hospital for 30 days, should that qualify me for SSI? No. If I'm a drug addict or an alcoholic, should that qualify me for SSI? No.

People, get a life and take your tail to work. SSI has turned into another welfare people that working folks are paying for. SSI is for people over 65 or disabled. Being a drug addict, alcoholic or whatever stupid reasons you come up with does not and should not allow you to milk the system.

anon113354
Post 20

@ no.19 You seem all right with me because I'm worse than you (I've been locked up and not in jail either). Those tests they give me are nothing. Even some animals can do them. i know you can count up to 50 in intervals of three, though there may be other things wrong with you. quit milking the system. i was told they can spot people faking it easily. Right. then how come so many are on ssi who don't need it? i smell a corrupt system.

anon112173
Post 19

I'm on ssi. I have severe bipolar and I had to see a doctor to have me approved.

You can apply for ssi and wait until they approve you. once you're approved they will pay you from the time you signed up until the time it took to get approved.

I'm getting $674 a month but if your payments on rent get higher then you can ask for a raise. I think the most you can get a month is $2,000. this is chicago so i don't know about anywhere else.

Also they only ask payback if you got too much because of an error so i don't know why they asked your friend to pay them back. i would see a lawyer.

Also to the people asking what makes people get ssi, well if the problems for the person are severe for them not to be able to work, they should get ssi. My anger stops me from getting a job. To the person who said if someone dies that had ssi coming will you still get it, that's a fat no. why cuss the person getting it? it was that person's money and if he shared that's him, but once that person dies you must inform social security and they will stop giving money. if you want to get ssi you must go through a lot, even me. It took me more than nine months to be approved.

anon112108
Post 18

a good lawyer can't get you anything!

anon111273
Post 17

Although they may not have any visually physical disabilities, or mental disabilities, you have to understand that they may have a chronic illness, even a disease such as terminal cancer.

A friend of mine was the most fit woman you could ever meet. She had stage IV melanoma cancer and no one could tell she was ill at all. However, she died within a year of diagnosis, so you can't always tell just by looking at someone if they are disabled or not.

anon104488
Post 15

This is a discussion forum, not a question and answer forum!

anon79335
Post 14

I don't understand what constitutes a disability. People walk into my place of business everyday and it appears nothing is physically or mentally wrong with them yet they get ssi for themselves and all of their children, which in some cases adds up to a lot of money since the majority have at least three or four kids and each receives a check for $600. Please help me understand. I just don't get it!

anon74491
Post 13

I'm 30 years old and have osteoarthritis. Does that qualify?

anon74409
Post 12

wow, maybe i should go for that. we work hard have a hard time paying our bills but oh we can pay for people who just don't want to work. I understand that some people need it but a friend of ours receives it and all he ever did was sponge off of people, him and his mother and they just get all these benefits. maybe I'm the dumb one. seems they do better than us.

anon71803
Post 11

My son's father died. Will I receive some benefits for my child since his father was getting SSI?

anon63995
Post 10

i am getting ssi but i lost my ss card and someone is using it. what is going to happen to my benefits?

anon55672
Post 9

My daughter has really bad seizures,and the state keep denied her for benefits, but my middle child receives disability, and she has seizures too. on the other hand too. i really don't know what to do next.

anon46648
Post 8

My son is is three years of age and i was wondering if he can receive ssi. He is currently been approved for speech class with a specialist but i was not sure if i can apply. It's currently hindering me at work. So can i apply for it?

holeyboots
Post 7

While receiving SSI can I apply for full disability?

anon42042
Post 5

I have a disabilty. I can read and spell and I have a speech problem. can I get SSI?

anon27088
Post 4

If you had a child with someone who is getting an ssi check and living with this person can your child still get benefits?

cgagnard
Post 3

My friend had to have surgery on her leg and was unable to work for 7 months. She was placed on SSI for that period. Now that she is back at work they have requested she pay back the 5,000 dollars she received. I do not understand. She was unable to work and qualified for SSI - so why would she have to repay this money? And no she did not work during this time.

anon11945
Post 2

While I am waiting to be eligible for disability benefits, can I still apply for S.S.I?

anon7331
Post 1

Can a person on social security, who is also an amputee, receive SSI?

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