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Who is Eligible for Social Security Benefits?


Who is Eligible for Social Security Benefits?

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Millions of children and adults depend on benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) for their basic income.  SSA provides many different kinds of benefits, including benefits for senior citizens, as well as children and adults with disabilities.  SSA’s main programs are Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI), and Social Security Retirement benefits.

SSI (also called Supplemental Security Income)
SSI is a monthly cash payment for individuals who have severe disabilities or are 65 or over 65 and who have low income and resources.  The maximum monthly benefit for an individual in Pennsylvania 2015 is $733 per month, plus a separate payment of $22.10 from Pennsylvania per month.  SSI is for people who have not worked much.  Both adults and children with severe disabilities can get SSI.  If you are found eligible for SSI in Pennsylvania, you may also be able to get Medicaid, SNAP (Food Stamps), and if eligible, have your Medicare premiums paid for.

Social Security Disability/Retirement (SSDI)
Social Security Disability/Retirement benefits provide monthly cash payments to individuals who have severe disabilities or who are retired (beginning at age 62), and who have paid enough in Social Security taxes to be covered.  The amount each individual gets is based on how long the person worked and how much the person earned.

* Some people who get only a small amount of Social Security Disability or Retirement benefits may also be eligible for a small SSI benefit.  If you have questions about this, please come to Community Legal Services.

Sometimes family members of deceased, disabled, or retired workers may be able to get benefits from Social Security based on that person’s work record.  These individuals may include: widows, widowers and children.

Important: Do not wait to file an appeal if your benefits have been denied or you have received a notice saying your benefits will be reduced or cut off.  Generally you only have 60 days to file an appeal so you should appeal right away – even before trying to get a lawyer.

If you believe you are eligible for one of these programs, but SSA has turned down your application, CLS may be able to help.  Please see the Get Help page.