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.
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.