The maximum income to receive SSI benefits changes each year. For 2020, the income limit for an eligible individual is $783. If you and your spouse are both eligible, your combined income must not exceed $1,175. These are also the maximum payment amount for SSI benefits.
Essential persons may also be eligible for SSI benefits of up to $392. According to SSI, an essential person is a dependent who had been living continuously with an SSI beneficiary since December 1973.
Who Qualifies for SSI in Florida?
The SSI is a federal program designed to help those who cannot qualify for disability benefits. Aside from the maximum income requirement, an eligible applicant must be:
- at least 65 years old
- has a disability that prevents him/her from doing any type of gainful employment and is expected to last for at least a year or result in death
- must have sufficiently limited total assets.
- legally residing within the US except for children of armed service members stationed overseas
Unlike disability benefits, you can claim SSI even if you haven’t paid enough social security taxes. Non-citizen residents may also avail of SSI benefits if they meet pertinent requirements for qualified aliens.
Most of the SSI’s eligibility criteria are pretty straightforward. But there is usually a large grey area when it comes to determining the applicant’s countable income.
How is Countable Income Determined?
The SSA defines income as:
anything you receive, whether in cash or in-kind, during a calendar month and can be used to meet your needs for food or shelter.
For SSI purposes, the following are considered part of your income:
- earnings from self-employment
- certain royalties
- interest income
- social security benefits
- state disability payments
- unemployment benefits
- workers compensation
- cash from friends and relatives
- food or shelter that you get for free or at less than fair market value (in-kind income)
- part of the income of your spouse, parent or sponsor (for qualified aliens) with whom you live (deemed income)
Certain earnings, however, do not count as income for SSI. Some of them are: (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
To derive your countable income, the SSA will deduct income items that don’t count for SSI from your total income. In general, the higher your countable income, the lesser your SSI benefit will be.
Some states like Florida also supplement SSI benefits. If you are receiving SSI and living in an adult family care home or assisted living facility, you may apply for an additional state supplement amounting to $78.40. Those living in a Medicaid facility are also eligible for an additional $5 per month.
How to Apply for SSI in Florida
There are three ways to apply for SSI benefits: 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 office near you.
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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.