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Supplementary Security Income is a monthly benefit paid by the federal Social Security Administration to people who are 65 or older, or blind, or have a disability and who have few assets and very low income. It is commonly known as “SSI”.
Is It For Me?
To get SSI, you must be 65 or older or blind or disabled. Children as well as adults can get these benefits due to blindness or disability.
Disability is a physical or mental impairment that keeps a person from performing any “substantial” work and is expected to last 12 months or result in death. A job that pays $800 per month ($1,330 if blind) is generally considered “substantial work”.
Blind means you are either totally blind or have very poor eyesight (corrected vision of 20/200 or less in the better eye or field of vision less than 20 degrees).
When deciding if a child is disabled, Social Security looks at how his or her condition affects everyday life (For further information call Social Security’s toll-free number: 800-772-1213 or your local Social Security-office whose numbers and addresses are given below.)
If you have a psychiatric disability you will need to have your psychiatrist fill out a medical report form. The form will ask your psychiatrist for a psychiatric history of your condition. The form will also ask for the following information.
What is your diagnosis?
When did it begin?
How does it limit your activities (especially work-related activities)?
What are the indications in your current psychiatric examination?
What treatment have you received?
Your psychiatric condition must be considered “severe” and must interfere with basic work-related activities for your claim to be considered.
Additionally, in order to receive SSI benefits, there are limits on income. “Income” includes the following:
Wages and non-cash items such as food and shelter provided by someone else
Unearned income such as Social Security Disability, Veterans Administration pension, workers’ compensation, job-related pension, and interest and dividends on investments
If you are over 65, blind or disabled, the maximum monthly income allowable for SSI for a New York State resident living alone is $639. If you are a couple living alone and in New York State, the maximum monthly income allowable is $933. There are special rules regarding income limitations for various living situations, and it’s best to call Social Security at 800-772-1213 or your local office (see below for a listing of local offices in Westchester) to help in making a determination.
Social Security doesn’t count all of your income when they decide if you can get SSI. For example, they don’t count:
The first $20 of SSD (Social Security Disability) income received in a month
The first $65 a month you earn from working and half the amount over $65
Most food, clothing or shelter you get from private nonprofit organizations
Most home energy assistance
Scholarship assistance for most tuition and fees
Earnings of a disabled child (18-21) who is a student
If you are disabled but work, Social Security has special rules and incentives to assist you in maintaining employment. You can also work and continue to receive SSI benefits. Social Security rules make it possible for you to test your ability to work without losing their cash or medical benefits. These rules are called “work incentives” and they may provide:
Continued cash benefits
Continued help with medical bills
Help with work-related expenses or
For more information about work incentives, ask any Social Security office for the publication: “A Summary Guide to Social Security and Supplemental Security Income Work Incentives for People with Disabilities.” Click here to go to a listing of Social Security offices in Westchester County.
Also, since there is pending legislation regarding the liberalization of these work incentives, please click on to these web sites for up-to-date information:
There is also a helpful web site that will assist you in determining whether you can be eligible for a “Pass Plan” which will assist you with work-related expenses. Please click on http://www.nls.org/pass-art.htm.
There are also limitations on the cash value of your assets. The assets you own that Social Security considers include real estate, personal belongings, bank accounts, cash, and stocks and bonds.
A person may be able to get SSI with assets worth up to $2,000. A couple may be able to get SSI with assets up to $3,000. Social Security doesn’t count everything you own. For example:
The home you live in and the land it’s on do not count.
Your personal and household goods and life insurance policies may not count, depending on their value.
Your car usually doesn’t count.
Burial plots for you or members of your immediate family do not count.
Up to $1,500 in burial funds for you and up to $1,500 in burial funds for your spouse may not count.
Life insurance with face value of $1,500 or less.
If you are blind or have a disability, some items may not count if you plan to use them to work or earn extra income.
What Are the Benefits?
SSI is a monthly cash benefit. The allotments vary from state to state. In New York State beginning with benefits payable in January 2003, the maximum cash benefit for an individual living alone is $639 and for a couple living with no one else, it is $933. There are special rules regarding SSI amounts for various living situations, and it’s best to call Social Security at 800-772-1213 to get information in making a determination for your specific situation. You can also log on to http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/11146.html to get the various SSI payments for your particular living situation.
If you get SSI, you also may be able to get other help from New York State or your county. For example, you may be able to get Medicaid and maybe food stamps, or some other social services. For information about all the services available in your community, call your local social services office.
Mount Vernon Center
100 East First Street
Mount Vernon, NY 10550-3442
750 Washington Street
Peekskill, NY 10566-5499
White Plains Center
85 Court Street
White Plains, NY 10601-4201
137 Alexander Street
Yonkers, NY 10701-2539
When Do the Benefits Apply?
Social Security pays SSI disability benefits for the first full month after the date a person filed his or her claim, or if later, the date on which he or she becomes eligible for SSI. If you are deemed disabled, Social Security will usually review your disability within three years. If your income or assets rise above a certain level you can become ineligible for SSI. To determine those income and asset levels please call Social Security’s toll-free number at 800-772-1213 or call your local social security office listed below.
How Do I Apply For the Benefit?
You should call or visit your local Social Security office. The following is a listing of offices in Westchester County:
5 Stevens Avenue
Mount Vernon, NY 10550
85 Harrison Street
New Rochelle, NY 10801
One Park Place, 3rd Floor
Peekskill, NY 10566
297 Knollwood Rd
White Plains, NY 10605
20 South Broadway, 10th Floor
Yonkers, NY 10701
You can also call Social Security at 800-772-1213 for an appointment with a Social Security representative who will help you apply. You can speak to a service representative between the hours of 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM on business days. Parents or guardians can apply for blind or disabled children under 18.
You should have the following things before you apply. Even if you don’t have all of the things listed, sign up anyway. The people at the Social Security office can help you get whatever is needed. Please bring:
Your Social Security card or a record of your Social Security number
Your birth certificate or other proof of your age
Information about the home where you live, such as mortgage or your lease and landlord’s name
Payroll slips, bank books, insurance policies, car registration, burial fund records, and other information about your income and the things you own
If you’re signing up based on disability, the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of doctors, hospitals and clinics that have seen you.
Proof of U.S. citizenship or eligible non-citizen status
Generally, application forms are filled out in your local Social Security Administration’s office. A personal interview is usually conducted, and the Social Security claims representative sends all the forms to the New York State Division of Disability Determinations. This is the state agency that does disability determinations for the federal Social Security Administration.
If your initial application for benefits is denied, the New York State Division of Disability Determinations (DDD) will reconsider your application if you re-file an appeal. An appeal should be made within 60 days of a notice of denial. According to the New York State DDD, the average time for them to reconsider your claim is 45 days.
If you are denied a second time, you can request an in-person hearing with a Federal Administrative Law Judge.
Is There a Cost To Me?
There is no cost to you.
Who Provides the Benefit?
The Supplementary Security Income (SSI) supplement is a federal benefit of the Social Security Administration, and New York State adds a cash supplement to the monthly cash amount. The amounts quoted above include the federal and state benefits.