Social Security is receiving its third-highest cost-of-living adjustment since 1980, with the average check poised to jump $147 in January. But despite this increase, a lot of people may still find themselves struggling to keep up with their living costs.
Fortunately for some, Social Security retirement benefits aren't the only means of support available. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can provide another monthly check, but requirements for this are a bit more stringent. Here's what you need to know.
What is Supplemental Security Income?
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program administered by the Social Security Administration, though it isn't funded through Social Security payroll taxes. It's designed to provide extra help to individuals with limited financial resources who meet one or more of the following criteria:
They're 65 or older.
They have a medical condition that prevents them from working and is likely to result in their death within one year.
Benefits are also available to children with qualifying disabilities whose parents have limited financial resources to provide for them.
How much can you get from SSI in 2023?
The monthly maximum federal SSI amounts for 2023 are $914 for an individual or $1,371 for a couple. But not everyone gets that much. The government looks at your income and resources, like your bank account balances and any investments you own, when deciding how much you'll receive. But certain things won't count against you, including:
The first $20 of your monthly income
The first $65 you earn from working each month and half of any earnings over $65
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits
Shelter from private, nonprofit organizations
Most home energy assistance programs
Wages used to purchase items or services needed for work (i.e. a wheelchair for someone with a disability)
The home and land where you live
Life insurance policies worth $1,500 or less
Burial plots and up to $1,500 in burial funds for you and your spouse
Most other income is considered countable income and can reduce the monthly SSI benefit you receive.
On the other hand, you could get more than expected if you live in a state that supplements federal SSI benefits. Nearly every state, except Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia offers some sort of SSI supplement. You don't have to apply for this separately. If you qualify for federal SSI benefits, you'll automatically receive any applicable state supplement.
How do you get SSI?
The Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool (BEST) can tell you if you're eligible for SSI, as well as many other government benefits. It's a simple questionnaire and doesn't require you to create a login or share any personal information. Once it's complete, you should know whether it's worth your time to fill out the SSI application.
If you want to apply, you can do so on the Social Security Administration's website or by calling the organization directly. You'll need the following information:
Your Social Security number
Your birth certificate or other proof of your age
Information about where you live, like your mortgage or your lease and landlord's name
Payroll slips, bank account balances, and other information about your income and the things you own
The names of doctors or hospitals visited if you're blind or disabled
Proof of U.S. citizenship or eligible noncitizen status
Your bank account routing and account number where you want the funds deposited
Once the Social Security Administration has approved your application, you'll start getting SSI checks on the first of each month. If you receive Social Security retirement benefits, you'll continue to receive those on the second, third, or fourth Wednesday of each month, depending on your birthday.
Even if you don't qualify for the maximum federal benefit, SSI can still help ease your financial worries. It takes a little while to complete the application process, so it's best to get started as soon as possible if you want to get the most from SSI in 2023.
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