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Supplemental Security Income

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is designed to provide a minimum monthly income to people age 65 and over, or blind and disabled people, with limited income and resources. Monthly benefits are based on need. You may be eligible even If you have never worked or paid into the social security system.

SSI limitations change on an annual basis. You need to contact your Social Security representative to determine if you qualify under the income and asset limits.

When counting assets, the home you live in, household items worth $2,000, your car, a life insurance policy worth $1,500 cash surrender value, and burial plots are usually excluded.

Eligibility determinations for SSI are made on a monthly basis; therefore any change in income from month to month needs to be reported and may have an effect on your eligibility and the amount of your monthly benefits.

To apply for SSI benefits, go to your local Social Security Administration office. A Social Security representative will help you complete the necessary applications. Be sure to bring proof of age and any medical reports you might have. Before applying for SSI, you must apply for any other benefits you are eligible for. This includes Social Security, pensions, and workman's compensation.

If the Social Security Administration declares you are not eligible for SSI or reduces your SSI check, you can appeal their decision. You need to appeal within 10 days to keep your benefits at the existing rate.

Social Security & SSI Appeals

The first step for appealing a Social Security or SSI decision is to ask the Social Security Administration to reconsider your case. In a Social Security appeal, you have 60 days to make the request. As described above, you only have 10 days if you want your SSI benefits to continue during the appeal.

If you are not satisfied with the result of the reconsideration, your next step is a hearing before an administrative law judge. After that you may appeal to the Appeals Council. Your last option is to file suit in your local Federal District Court.

All appeals must be made in writing. It is advisable to obtain assistance from an attorney when you decide to appeal. You can, however, be represented by anyone you choose.

Representative Payeeship

In the event you are no longer able to manage your government benefits, a representative payee may be appointed to manage them.

The person asking to be named a representative payee must file an application with the Social Security Administration. That person must also supply evidence that he or she is related to or cares for the beneficiary of the payments.

The beneficiary does not have to be ruled legally incompetent to obtain a representative payee. The agency paying the benefits does need to find the beneficiary unable to manage their benefits.

The appointed representative payee usually has a continuous relationship with the beneficiary and has shown strong concern for the personal well being of that person.

If no such person exists, a public or private agency may be appointed to the position.

The representative payee must use the payment for the needs of the beneficiary. A written report of how the funds are being used must be submitted by the representative to the Social Security Administration.

Beneficiaries can terminate their relationship with the representative at any time. This is done by the beneficiary proving he/she is able to manage their benefits. If the representative is not acting in the best interest of the beneficiary, that representative can be removed.

For more information, contact your local Social Security Administration.