Are you unable to work because of disability or age? Do you need financial assistance to cover your basic needs? You might be eligible for federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. And if you live in Illinois you might also qualify for state assistance programs. Find out what steps you must follow to file for SSI benefits in Illinois.
What Are SSI Benefits?
SSI benefits are monthly payments from the federal Social Security Administration (SSA) to eligible recipients with limited income and resources. Unlike Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), SSI does not have work history requirements. The maximum monthly amount a single eligible person could receive in 2019 is $771 and in 2020 is $783. The maximum monthly amount for an eligible couple is $1,157 in 2019 and $1,175 in 2020.
Who Is Eligible for SSI?
To qualify for SSI, you must be 65 years or older, blind, or disabled. To be considered disabled, you must:
- have a physical or mental impairment that is expected to last at least 12 months, or possibly result in death, and
- not be able to perform a substantial amount of work, called “substantial gainful activity.” For the SSA, this means making $1,220 or more per month, before taxes (or $2,040 per month for people who are blind, in 2019).
To be eligible for SSI, you also must:
- Have limited income;
- Have limited resources;
- Be a U.S. citizen or have one of the allowable immigrant statuses;
- Live in one of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands;
- Not leave the country for 30 or more consecutive days;
- Not be in an institution such as a hospital or prison at the government’s expense;
- Apply for any other benefits you might be eligible for;
- Give SSA permission to request any financial records about you;
- File an application; and
- Meet certain other requirements.
What Are the Income Limits?
To receive SSI benefits, your countable income must be less than the maximum monthly federal benefit rate. Income is what you receive in cash or in-kind that can be used to pay for your shelter and food. Generally, income includes amounts you earn (such as through work), unearned benefits (like SSDI), and in-kind payments (such as living somewhere rent-free). There are many exceptions to what is counted as income for SSI. For example, food stamps and income tax refunds are not counted. The first $20 of any income and the first $65 of any earned income are not counted.
What Are the Resource Limits?
To receive SSI benefits, you must have resources that total less than $2,000 (or $3,000 for couples). Resources include bank accounts, land, personal property, life insurance, and vehicles. There are many exceptions to which resources are counted. For example, you are allowed one vehicle for transportation.
How Do You Apply for SSI?
Adult applicants can apply online if the following requirements are met. You must:
- Be between the ages of 18 and 65;
- Never have been married;
- Not be blind;
- Be a U.S. citizen;
- Live in one of the 50 states, District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands;
- Never have applied for or received SSI benefits; and
- Apply for SSDI at the same time.
If you do not meet the online application requirements or you prefer to use the paper application, you can schedule an appointment with a local Social Security office to file an application in person. Call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, or contact your local Social Security office.
What Happens After Filing for SSI Benefits in Illinois?
After you submit your disability application, the application is sent to a disability determination services (DDS) agency in Illinois and assigned to a disability examiner. The examiner will review your application and determine whether you qualify as being disabled. If the examiner decides you do not qualify, then your application is denied. In Illinois around 70 percent of applications are denied at this stage. If denied, you submit a request for reconsideration. After that is denied, you appeal the decision, and your case will be assigned to an administrative law judge for a hearing, which typically takes place about 14 months later.
Can You Qualify for SSI and SSDI?
In some instances, you might qualify for both SSI and SSDI. This scenario is known as “concurrent benefits.”
What Additional Benefits Does Illinois Have?
The Aid to the Aged, Blind or Disabled (AABD) Cash program is available through the Illinois Department of Human Services. The program is for people who are elderly, blind or have a disability, and who need money and medical care to help take care of themselves. AABD also is known as State Supplemental Payments (SSP), because monthly federal SSI payments can be supplemented with additional state funds.
The disability application for SSI benefits requires significant documentation and can be a lengthy process. Consider the Good Law Group for your representation and guidance through the SSI application process.