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How being homeless can affect SSI benefits

It is an unfortunate reality that there are many homeless people in New Jersey. Some of them are ill, have various personal and professional issues or became homeless for a variety of unforeseen and understandable reasons. These individuals and their families might think there are few, if any, programs to help them. However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) can provide Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to people who are homeless and meet the qualifications to get benefits.

People who are homeless have the same right to seek SSI benefits as anyone else. The person must be blind, disabled or 65-years-old or older. The person must meet the income and resource requirements.

A common question people who are homeless and their families might ask is how the person will get the SSI benefits if they do not have an address. There are several ways: the benefits can be placed into a bank account via direct deposit; the benefits can be sent through the mail to a third party; a relative or other individual can function as a representative payee; or the benefits can be provided in a Direct Express debit card.

Some people who do not have a home are in a shelter or an institution. It is important to remember that this can affect SSI. If the person lives in a public institution, he or she might not be eligible to get SSI at all. People who are homeless and their families should be aware of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) and how Social Security works with it to assist the homeless. The SSA can help those who are homeless in several ways, including with SSI.

Simply because a person does not have a home does not mean that he or she cannot get SSI benefits, if the basic requirements are met. There are other factors though. For those who are homeless or have a relative who is homeless, and they believe that the person meets the criteria to get SSI, it is critical to discuss the matter with a legal professional who is experienced in Supplemental Security Income as soon as possible.

Source: SSA.gov, "Spotlight On Homelessness -- 2018 Edition," accessed on March 27, 2018

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