Can I Get more SSI Disability?
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based program for the aged, blind, and disabled that is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Unlike Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), SSI is not based on how much you have paid into Social Security; rather, it is based on your income, assets, and available resources.
How Much Can I Get from SSI?
To qualify for SSI benefits, you must have no more than $2,000 in assets as an individual, and no more than $3,000 in assets as a married couple. To determine income eligibility, all “countable income” is taken into account. This may include:
- Income from Work: You are allowed to earn a small amount of income and still qualify for SSI.
- In-Kind Support and Maintenance (IKSM): Shelter or food you receive for free or at a discount.
- Deemed Income: Part of the income of your spouse, parents, sponsor, or whoever you live with is used to calculate your SSI benefit.
- Gifts: Any financial gifts you receive from family or friends are considered countable income.
- Unearned Income and Benefits: Any payments you receive from SSDI, workers’ compensation, unemployment, pensions, etc.
For 2018, the maximum amount you can receive for SSI benefits is $750 per month for an individual, and $1125 for married couples in which both spouses are eligible for SSI benefits. There are cost of living increases periodically, but for this year, these are the maximum amounts you can receive through the program.
How Can I Get more SSI?
The monthly payouts for individuals and married couples through SSI is pretty modest, so naturally, many people wonder if they can get more SSI disability. Assuming you are getting the maximum amount in benefits, then technically, the answer is “no”. This is a fixed number and there is no way to appeal to the SSA for an increase in benefits.
If you are not receiving $750 per month as an individual or $1125 a month as a married couple, you can start by asking why you are not receiving the full monthly benefit. For example, if you are receiving somewhere around $500 a month and you have no other income, it is likely that the SSA assumes you are receiving in-kind support (in the form or food or reduced rent), because that may be what you put down on your application for benefits.
Oftentimes, however, people who have relied on others to help with food and rent start paying these costs themselves once they start receiving SSI. If you are in this situation, speak with your case worker about what is necessary to get an increase. If you cannot get anywhere with the case worker, contact our office to review your case and go over your options.
Another thing to keep in mind is that not all income is counted against your SSI benefits. Some sources of income that are not counted include:
- The first $20 of most sources of monthly income you receive;
- The first $65 of earned income you receive, and half of all monthly earnings above $65;
- Food stamps;
- Home energy assistance;
- Needs-based food or shelter provided by a non-profit agency;
- Loans to you (cash or in-kind) that you are required to repay.
By taking advantage of these and other types of income that are not counted for SSI, you are in a better position to stretch your limited resources and make ends meet.
How do State Supplements Effect my SSI Benefits?
Most states have some type of supplement that it pays to residents who are collecting SSI disability. In Alabama, those receiving SSI and either living in a treatment center or receiving home health care can qualify for additional benefits. The amounts received start at $56 for an individual receiving independent home care and go up to just under $400 for a married couple living in a treatment center. These benefits may be counted as unearned income, which could reduce your SSI benefits. However, since the first $20 of overall income each month is not counted, it is most likely in your best interest to see if you can qualify for this program.
Trouble Getting Approved for SSI Benefits? Speak with an Experienced Attorney
The Supplemental Security Insurance program is complicated and confusing, and many people have difficulty getting approved for any benefits at all. At The Dansby Law Firm, P.C., we understand the frustration many individuals face when they are not able to qualify for the SSI benefits they need and deserve. We have helped numerous clients who have been in your situation, and we may be able to help you as well. For a free case evaluation, call us today at 334-834-7001 or send us a message through our web contact form.