Supplemental security income (SSI) is a program that provides monthly payments to disabled adults and children with limited income or resources. Since it’s administered by the Social Services Agency (SSA), its funding comes from the federal government. As such, the rules are pretty much similar anywhere in the US, including Florida.
So if you’re planning to apply for SSI in Florida, know that the process and eligibility criteria is the same as in any other state. The only difference is the state-sponsored benefits. In Florida, most SSI beneficiaries are also eligible to receive other government benefits to supplement their SSI benefits.
But before submitting your application, here’s what you need to know about getting SSI benefits in Florida.
Who Qualifies for SSI in Florida?
The SSI is one of the two programs implemented by the SSA for disabled people. The other one is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), a disability benefit geared for people who have paid enough social security taxes. Those who can’t qualify for social security disability benefits may apply for SSI disability benefits, provided that they have limited income and resources (the things they owned). Though people who are 65 years and older without disabilities may also qualify for SSI as long as they meet the financial qualifications.
In the context of applying for SSI benefits, “limited” income and resources means that the applicant is not earning more than the SSA’s income threshold. This threshold changes frequently. For 2022, your resources must be $2,000 or lower. If you and your spouse are both eligible, your combined resources must not exceed $3,000.
Aside from the income and resources requirement, an eligible applicant:
- must be at least 65 years old
- is blind or has a physical or mental disability that prevents them from doing any type of gainful employment and is expected to last for at least a year or result in death
- is a US citizen
- be legally residing within the US or the Northern Mariana Islands
- must not be confined to an institution supported by government funds (i.e. hospital or prison)
- have stayed in the country for a full calendar month or 30 or more consecutive days
Non-citizen residents may also avail of SSI benefits if they meet pertinent requirements for qualified aliens.
Your living arrangements may also affect your eligibility for SSI. In general, you’ll only qualify for SSA benefits if you live in:
- a publicly-operated community residence with less than 16 residents
- a public institution mainly to attend an approved re-employment training
- a public emergency shelter for the homeless
- a public or private institution (like nursing homes) where Medicare pays for more than half of the cost of your long term care
People with records of felony or arrest warrants for escaping from custody or flight escape are usually not eligible for SSI.
What Counts as Income and Resources
As mentioned, your income and resources play a huge role in determining your eligibility for SSI. But not all of the money you received or everything you owned will count as income and resources.
According to the SSA, “income” for SSI purposes includes:
- your earnings from work or business
- workers compensation
- veterans disability benefits
- social security benefits
- private pensions
- unemployment benefits
- state disability benefits
- interest income
- cash received from family, friends, and relatives
- food and shelter that you got for free or less than their fair market value
- part of your spouse or parent’s income whom you are living with
Certain earnings, however, DO NOT COUNT as income for the month such as: (see full list)
- the first $20 of most income received in a month
- the first $65 of earnings and one-half of earnings over $65 received in a month
- the value of food stamps received
- income tax refund
- home energy assistance
- need-based state assistance benefits
Resources, on the other hand, are basically the things you own. This includes:
- bank accounts
- US savings bonds
- personal property
- life insurance
- anything you owned that can be exchanged for food or shelter
But just like income, there are certain things you own that DO NOT COUNT as part of your resources such as (see full list):
- your home and the land it is on
- one vehicle that you use for transportation
- personal items and household goods
- burial funds for you and your spouse with a value of $1,500 or less
- life insurance policies with a combined face value of not more than $1,500
- burial spaces for you or your immediate family
In general, the higher your countable income and resources is, the lesser your SSI benefit will be.
How to Apply for SSI in Florida
There are three ways to apply for SSI benefits in Florida: online, by phone or in-person.
Online application, however, is available only for those who are:
- aged between 18 and 65
- never married
- not blind
- US citizens residing within the country
- applying for Social Security Disability Insurance at the same time as your SSI claim
- not receiving nor have applied for SSI benefits in the past
If you don’t meet the above requirements, you can always call them at 1-800-772-1213 or at 1-800-325-0778 if you are hard of hearing. You can also visit any SSA field office near you.
Some of the documents you will need are:
- your social security card or your social security number
- proof of identification (can be a valid ID with personal information)
- documents containing information about the home you live in like your mortgage or the rent agreement with your landlord
- proof of your age (birth certificate, passport, etc.)
- proof of income and resources (payslip, burial fund records, bankbooks, insurance policies, etc.)
- proof of citizenship
- your medical records or names, addresses, or contact numbers of hospitals or doctors you’ve been to if you’re blind or disabled
If you don’t have some of the documents enumerated above, you can still apply for benefits. The SSA staff will help you obtain those documents as long as you are eligible for SSI benefits.
After you submit your application, the SSA will evaluate it and may request additional documents as necessary. Whether you got approved or denied, you will receive their decision by mail. If you don’t agree with their decision, you can also file an appeal.
Other Benefits for SSI Recipients in Florida
As mentioned, SSI recipients in Florida may also be eligible for state-sponsored benefits. Some of them are:
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Formerly known as food stamps, this is a program designed to help low-income and disabled individuals to buy food. In general, you can apply for SNAP benefits if everyone in your home is applying for or getting SSI. But you can also apply for SNAP if you are homeless or have no permanent address.
Aside from SNAP, you can also apply for Medicaid to help pay for doctor and hospital bills. To apply, go to your local social services or medical assistance office. Know, however, that the income limit for Medicaid in Florida is pretty low and some SSI beneficiaries may not qualify.
Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA)
Florida’s TCA program provides cash assistance to low-income families with children under 18 years old. Pregnant single mothers and head of families who are 18 and below may also qualify as long as they are earning below the state’s income limit. You can apply for TCA online by visiting this link.
How Much SSI Benefits Can You Get?
Your SSI benefit amount will depend on your countable income. The SSA assumes that the higher your income, the lesser your need for government assistance. As such, the lesser your SSI benefits will be.
However, the SSA sets a cap on the SSI amount you can receive per month and the maximum amount changes per year. For 2022, eligible individuals can only receive no more than $841. While couples who are both eligible for SSI may receive up to $1,261 per month. Essential persons – those living with and caring for the SSI beneficiary – are also eligible for SSI benefits not exceeding $421 per month.
Want to apply for social security disability benefits instead? We can help. Get in touch with us now for a free consultation.
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About The Author
Judy Ponio is a writer for Victor Malca Law P.A. and enjoys helping people with questions about social security, workers compensation, and other serious matters involving people’s livelihood. She is not an attorney and her writing should not be considered legal advice.