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Message #622 Eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) checks

mp3 #622 Eligibility for Supplemental Social Security Income (SSI) Checks (mp3 file)

If you are in financial need and you are 65 years of age or older, or blind, or mentally or physically disabled, you may be eligible for monthly Supplemental Security Income checks from the federal government called "SSI" checks. Blind or disabled children may also be eligible. These payments include money provided by California as a supplement to the federal payment. You may be eligible for checks if you have little or no regular cash income, and you don't own much in the way of assets that can be turned into cash.

To be eligible, you may not have countable assets valued at more than $2,000.00 for a single individual, or $3,000.00 for an eligible couple. Some assets count toward this assets limitation; other assets do not count. Countable assets (or "resources" as Social Security calls them) include the value of savings accounts, checking accounts, cash, stocks, bonds or other assets that could be turned into cash.

But not everything you own counts against your assets limitation. Most pre-paid funeral or burial insurance plans are not counted. Life insurance policies are not counted if their total face value on any one person is $1,500.00 or less. If the total face value of one person's policies is more than $1,500.00, only the cash surrender value counts. A car is not counted if the current equity value of the car is less than $4,500.00. If the car's current equity value is more than $4,500.00, only the amount over $4,500.00 is counted toward the assets limitation. A car is not counted at all if it is used for employment, or to obtain regular medical treatment or it is specifically equipped for a disabled individual. A home of any value does not count as long as it is used as your or your spouse's residence.

If you believe that you may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income checks, you may telephone the toll-free Social Security number, 1-800-772-1213, to begin your application. The toll-free number is open Mondays through Fridays from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. or, if you know someone who seems to be in financial need, you may suggest that they call the Social Security toll-free number for more information. You may receive both Social Security and SSI checks at the same time, if you are eligible for both.

Part of the application process requires that a photocopy of certain documents be included in the file. You may file an application by telephone, but be prepared to submit the originals of whichever of the following documents fit your situation:

- Your birth certificate or other proof of citizenship.

- Your most recent checking account statement and your savings account books.

- Your life insurance policies if the face value of all of your policies totals $1,500.00 or more.

- Your car registration slip.

- Proof of any income you have such as a veteran's pension, or other pension annuity.

If you apply for SSI as a disabled person, the application process will require a list of doctors, hospitals, or clinics where you have received treatment. The full addresses, telephone numbers, and patient identification numbers, if any, will be needed.

If you receive SSI checks in California, you are automatically eligible for MediCal, the state's medical assistance program. It is not necessary to apply separately for MediCal if you are eligible for SSI checks.

If you are disabled or over 65, and are eligible for SSI with no other income, and are living independently, what would be the amount of your SSI check each month? Currently, if you are living alone, the Federal minimum amount is $603 a month, or if you are a couple living together it will be $904.00. Higher amounts are available depending on the type of SSI you are receiving and the location where you reside.

If you already receive SSI checks, keep in mind that you will need to call the toll-free Social Security telephone number if there is a change in your monthly income; or if there is a change in your assets -- that is, if you have resources which go over the $2,000 or $3,000 limits; or if you are no longer disabled; or if you change your address; or if you go to live in the home of someone else, or if someone else moves into your home; or if you go to work, or if you are going to be a hospital patient everyday of a calendar month or longer.

There is a generous allowance for earnings from work, but if you do go to work, you will need to telephone Social Security to find out how your SSI checks will be affected.

For more information about the Supplemental Security Income program, or to file an application, call the Social Security toll-free telephone number, 1-800-772-1213.

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