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What is Supplemental Security Income and who is eligible for it?

Many older Tennessee residents draw Social Security benefits, and some citizens draw Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. But people who have certain disabilities, such as blindness, and also have little or no income have another option available to them: Supplemental Security Income.

What is Supplemental Security Income? The SSI program managed by the Social Security Administration provides payments for people who have limited income or are blind or disabled or 65 years of age and older. The SSA runs the SSI program, but the program is not funded by taxes from the Social Security fund but by general funds from the U.S. Treasury. Although SSI benefits are set to a national standard, many states also help applicants by adding to the basic amount.

How does a Tennessee resident qualify for SSI benefits? An applicant must meet the program's limits on income. To qualify for SSI, a person's income includes more than pay for work; it also includes shelter, food and any other monthly income. Every state has a different limit. Tennessee has an income limit of $721 for an individual and $1,082 for a couple. Another requirement is the total value of resources available to the applicant. This amount includes any bank accounts, real estate, cash, stocks or bonds. In Tennessee, the limit is $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple.

How can someone apply for SSI benefits? A Tennessee resident can apply in person as well as getting more information on how to navigate the application process. Knowing more about the process can help an applicant make sure that documents such as birth certificates and proof of income are available when the application is made.

Source: Socialsecurity.gov, "Supplemental Security Income (SSI)," Accessed on Dec. 3, 2014

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