Richmond, Virginia SSI Lawyer Corey Pollard – Helping Disabled Adults and Children Qualify for Supplemental Security Income Benefits


The Supplemental Security Income program, often called SSI, provides payments to adults and children who are disabled and have limited income, assets, and resources. Claims for SSI benefits are called Title 16 claims because payment is authorized under that part of the Social Security Act.


If your family has too much income or resources, your SSI claim will be denied no matter how severe your medical impairments are. To receive SSI benefits you must prove not only that you are disabled, but also that you meet the “means” test discussed below.


Understanding SSI limits on income, assets, and resources is complicated. Contact our experienced Richmond SSI lawyers and Virginia disability attorneys for help proving you’re disabled and that you meet the income and resource limits to receive Title 16 benefits.


Do I Need a Work History to Receive SSI Benefits in Virginia?


Unlike the SSDI program, SSI is funded by general tax revenues and not Social Security taxes. This means you can still qualify for SSI benefits even though you’ve never had a job or have insufficient work credits to qualify for SSDI. Applying for SSI benefits is a good option for disabled adults who have no or low-income and have been able to hold a job because of their health or for other reasons.


We serve as SSI lawyers for many disabled adults who do not have a solid employment history. Do not let this top you from filing for Supplemental Security Income.


SSI Income Limits – How Much You Can Earn to Qualify for SSI

The SSA’s rules and regulations on how much you can earn, own, or have in the bank to qualify for SSI are complicated. We recommend contacting a disability attorney for help understanding your eligibility for SSI.


As a general rule, your monthly income cannot exceed the federal benefit rate (FBR) or the SSA will deny your claim for SSI. The federal benefit rate increases each year – some years more than others. In 2016 the FBR is $733 per month for individuals and $1,100 for couples.


Even if you are the only person in your household applying for disability benefits under the SSI program, the SSA will still consider your spouse’s income in determining your eligibility. If your spouse works full-time, there is a good chance you will not qualify. We see this happen time and time again. Even though it may not be fair, there is nothing that can be done unless the law is changed.


The federal benefit also establishes the maximum federal SSI payment. All individuals who qualify for SSI will receive the same benefit amount, unless they live in a state that supplements the payment with extra funds. Unfortunately Virginia is not one of those states. The state supplement can range from $10 to a few hundred dollars. If you qualify for SSI in Virginia you will not receive more than $733 per month as an individual.


Some income is excluded from the SSA’s calculation when determining your eligibility for SSI. For example the SSA will not consider the following:


  • Food stamps or TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) Benefits


  • Subsidized housing


  • $65 per month of wages and half of your wages over $65


You can still receive SSI benefits if you’re receiving TANF or live in subsidized housing. Also you may be able to receive SSI benefits even if you’re working.


SSI Limits on Assets and Resources


So you and your spouse are not working. Shouldn’t you qualify for SSI automatically? Unfortunately the answer is no.


The SSA will also examine your assets and resources when determining your eligibility. This includes any cash you have in savings and checking accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, monetary investments, promissory notes, and some life insurance policies. It also includes any real property and personal property you own that can be sold for cash.


There are some exceptions. That is, there are some assets that the SSA will exclude from its calculation. These are:


  • Your house, including the land on which it sits. You must use this property as your principal residence to get the exemption.


  • Personal property up to $2,000 in value.


  • Your wedding ring and engagement ring.


  • Assistive devices such as wheelchairs, prosthetics, and canes.


  • One automobile.


  • Life insurance with a face value under $1,500.


  • Housing assistance


So how much can you have in resources to qualify for SSI, after the exemptions? The numbers are as follows:


  • $2,000.00 for a single person; or


  • $3,000 for a married couple.


This limitation on assets and resources is what causes many of our clients to be ineligible for SSI. If you worked for a number of years and put money in a retirement account, you may have to deplete your savings to qualify. The same goes for those of you who have obtained workers compensation settlements – having money in the bank may exclude you from receiving SSI benefits. 


SSI Citizenship Requirements


U.S. citizens are eligible to receive SSI disability payments. Some other people may be eligible as well, including:


  • Native Americans born in Canada who are lawfully residing in the United States.


  • People who legally entered the United States.


  • People who are lawfully residing in the United States as a refugee or who have been granted asylum.


You are usually not eligible to continue receiving SSI benefits if you are a U.S. citizen living outside of the country. This is one of the many differences between SSI and SSDI.


Should I Hire a Richmond, Virginia SSI Attorney


Most initial applications for SSI are denied. And the appeals process is complex and difficult. Hiring a Richmond SSI lawyer to guide you through the process for receiving Supplemental Security Income will help increase your chances of getting the money and benefits you need.


If you have a physical disability or mental disorder that impacts your ability to work, call us today to discuss your legal rights. We help disabled adults and children across Virginia get the SSI benefits they deserve.