Many Texans May Be Unaware They're Eligible for SSI Benefits
Monday, September 11, 2023
Most people eligible for Social Security know what's required to access the program, but another federal program aimed at underserved communities gets less attention.
The Supplemental Security Income program, administered by the Social Security Administration is reaching out to folks in states like Texas, after seeing a drop-off in applications from Texans since the pandemic.
Abigail Zapote, senior adviser for the Social Security Administration, said 7 million people currently receive SSI benefits.
"What we do as part of this program is ensure that we're bridging the gap for some of these folks that might have trouble making rent, or being able to purchase medicine in their day to day," Zapote explained.
People who receive SSI may also qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP benefits, Medicaid and discounted internet service through the Federal Communications Commission's Affordable Connectivity Program.
The Social Security Administration limited its in-person services following the onset of the pandemic, which resulted in disruptions in many parts of the country, with long wait times, dropped calls and limited access to the agency's services.
Zapote acknowledged it may have affected people's awareness of SSI.
"Folks that may be eligible for SSI include adults or children with a disability or blindness who have income and resources below specific financial limits," Zapote outlined. "And SSI payments can actually also be made to people age 65 and older who meet financial qualifications."
The most significant declines in SSI applications have been reported in areas with a majority of people living at or below 150% of the federal poverty threshold.
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