Federal Supplemental Security Income: Who Qualifies and How to Apply

Supplemental Social Security Income
This page was originally published February 23, 2023 and updated April 26, 2024.

We understand from personal experience just how hard cancer is in every aspect of life from emotions to finances. As a cancer patient, you may find yourself struggling with many financial challenges every single day. Between expensive treatments and missed work, it can be difficult to make ends meet. Government programs are available to help ease these financial burdens. Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is one such program that provides regular monthly payments to those battling cancer.  In this blog post, we’ll provide a brief overview of the SSI program, who qualifies, how to apply for SSI benefits today. If you are having trouble meeting expenses due to a cancer diagnosis, this program may help you get the financial assistance you need. ❤️

What is Supplemental Security Income?

Supplemental Security Income is a needs-based program that provides financial assistance to people who are blind, disabled, or 65 years of age or older and have limited income. The program is administered by the Social Security Administration and is funded through general tax revenue, not Social Security taxes. This program is an important safety need for anyone in the USA who has limited financial resources and who is unable to work due to age or disability. If you can’t work because of cancer, this federal program can provide you with regular monthly payments to help you meet expenses during this challenging time.

Who Qualifies for SSI Benefits?

In order to receive federal Supplemental Security benefits from the Social Security Administration, you must meet certain criteria. You must either be disabled or blind or be over 65 years old. In addition, you must have low income and limited financial resources. Additionally, you must be a US citizen or national residing in one of the 50 US states (or DC). In 2023, the maximum amount of income that can be earned in order to qualify for any SSI benefit is $733 per month for an individual and $1100 per month for a couple. Additionally, an individual’s countable resources must be worth less than $2000 or $3000 for a couple. Countable resources include things like cash on hand, bank accounts, stocks, and bonds.

What is the Average Monthly Benefit?

In 2023, the maximum federal Supplemental Security benefit amount is $914 per month for an individual and $1371 per month for couples. However, the actual amount of benefits that you receive is based on where you live as well as your countable income and resources. For example, if you live in California or New York where the cost of living is higher than average, the state will provide an additional payment to help offset costs. These states, and others, offer higher amounts due to their higher cost of living relative to other parts of the country. Once you are approved for benefits, your award letter will outline exactly what your monthly benefit will be.

How to Apply for SSI Benefits

If you think you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income benefits then it’s important that you take steps towards applying as soon as possible. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to apply: 

  1. Gather all necessary documents needed such as proof of identity (driver’s license/passport), proof of residency (utility bills), medical records related your disability.
  2. Fill out an application form. (See below for online, phone, and in-person options.)
  3. Submit your application along with any required documents.
  4. Schedule an appointment with your local Social Security office, if needed.
  5. Wait for your application status update.
  6. Receive your decision letter letting you know whether your application has been approved or denied.
  7. If approved, start receiving monthly SSI payments. If you’ve been denied and disagree with the decision, start an appeal.

You can begin the application process online, over the phone, or in person at your local Social Security office. If applying online, the first step is to create an account on the SSA’s website at www.SSA.gov. Once you have created an account, you will be able to complete the online application. The SSA will then review your application and make a determination on whether or not you qualify for benefits.

If you would like to apply for Supplemental Security Income over the phone, you can call the SSA’s toll-free number at (800) 772-1213 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to  7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. According to the SSA website, wait times are usually shorter early in the day (between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. local time) or later in the afternoon (between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. local time). Wednesday to Friday callers typically experience the shortest wait times. Calling towards the end of the month can also reduce the time you spend on hold.

In-person appointments are also available. If you would like to apply at your local office, call the toll-free number above to set a day and time to visit and apply in person.

The Compassionate Allowances Program

As a cancer patient, you know how important it is to have access to fast and efficient financial support. The Social Security Compassionate Allowances Program may help streamline your claim. This program is specifically designed for seriously ill patients. Some people with specific late-stage cancer diagnosis may be helped through this program. If you qualify under Compassionate Allowances, your claim will be processed quickly. To view a list of qualifying conditions, please visit the SSA Compassionate Allowances website here. If you’ve been diagnosed with a cancer that has distant metastases, is inoperable or unresectable, or is recurrent, please review this program for help.

The Supplemental Security Income program serves as an important safety net for anyone in financial need by providing regular monthly payments that supplement income to reduce the stresses that money worries bring. If you have low-income and are blind, disabled, or 65 years of age or older this program can help you. Cancer brings many financial challenges. If you have limited funds and financial resources and are struggling to make ends meets due to cancer, reach out to see if you qualify and get the help you need right away.

Know Your Legal Rights

Applying for Supplemental Security Income can be a complicated process. It typically requires the submission of lengthy paperwork, and it can take months or even years to receive an approval. Recent studies demonstrate that having a lawyer on your side can both speed up the claims process and increase your odds of a successful outcome. If you would like to speak with a lawyer for free to understand your legal rights, please visit our legal help page for more. Take a free online survey to qualify. Your consultation is free and your lawyer never charges any fee upfront to represent you. Your attorney only gets paid if he or she successfully wins your claim. Visit our legal help page to see if you qualify and get the financial help you deserve right away. ❤️

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