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Largely because of rising inflation, Social Security Insurance recipients could see the highest Cost of Living Adjustment in over a decade when the calendar flips to 2022. Of course, that estimate is subject to change. The Social Security Administration will not finalize the 2022 COLA adjustment until late in 2021. Furthermore, other variables, such as interest rates, could also apply.

Even if the 2022 COLA adjustment is significant, many families may have a hard time making ends meet on SSI alone. Estimates vary, but according to most observers, about a third of these families depend almost entirely on Social Security Disability payments for all their living expenses. Fortunately, if you are eligible for Social Security Disability, you may be eligible for some other programs as well. These programs could be the difference between paying the bills and coming up short.

At Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm, our SSI lawyers near you do more than help you obtain maximum benefits. We also inform people about other programs which could significantly raise their standard of living. We understand that, especially in the post-COVID-19 era, some people might have some issues applying for the available assistance. We are always here to help.

SSI Eligibility

As a preliminary matter, let’s briefly look at some major SSI eligibility requirements. Some are quite simple and others are rather complex. The basic eligibility rules are as follows:

  • Age: Many people qualify for benefits after 50, but sometimes earlier. Income and other variables usually determine eligibility.
  • Blindness: According to the SSA, you are legally blind if your vision in your “good” eye is worse than 20/200 even when you wear corrective lenses. A 20 degree visual field limitation qualifies as well. If you do not meet these benchmarks, you might still be eligible for SSI due to a disability.
  • Disability: Children are disabled if a physical, emotional, or other condition causes “marked and severe functional limitations.” Adults are disabled if their disability “results in the inability to do any substantial gainful activity.” SGA is basically earning enough money to live above the poverty line. For both adults and children, the disability must be terminal or expected to last at least twelve months.

Income and asset restrictions also apply. The income exemptions are so high that most people have limited incomes for SSI purposes. As for assets, a Heermans SSI disability lawyer serving the greater Memphis area can advise you in setting up a Medicaid trust which preserves eligibility for government benefits. Most citizens and some resident aliens qualify for SSI.


The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is the new food stamps program. If you meet certain income requirements and resource requirements, you could receive up to $194 in benefits per person per month. Some exemptions apply to the income requirement. Financial resources include investments, real property that’s not for sale, and annuity payments. Most other resources, such as your house and car, are exempt. It’s usually easier to qualify for SNAP if you are over 59.

Usually, people who are willing and able to work yet aren’t able to find a job and are fully unemployed are eligible for SNAP benefits. All beneficiaries must be Tennessee residents and either have a Social Security number or have applied for one. A few non-citizen immigrants are eligible, and most dependents of non-eligible immigrants are also eligible for benefits.

SNAP recipients may purchase most pre-packaged food, including snacks and sodas, with their EBT cards. The prohibited list includes alcohol, nonfood items, vitamins and other supplements, and preheated food.

Medical Needs

Much like SNAP, TennCare is a state-administered Medicaid program. However, unlike SNAP, there might be no income requirements. Eligible groups include:

  • Children under 21,
  • Pregnant women,
  • Breast or cervical cancer patients,
  • Caretakers of minor children, if the child is a close relative, and 
  • SSI recipients.

You are also eligible for TennCare if you are institutionalized in a place like a nursing home and your income is under $2,382 a month (as of July 1, 2021). Some other income and resource limitations apply as well, mostly for children and pregnant women. These requirements are basically the same as the SNAP requirements, which were discussed above.

Special rules could apply for children under 19. These individuals are usually eligible regardless of income if they are uninsurable, which means they are “unable to access private health insurance because of their health condition.” This requirement could mean that health insurance is either entirely unavailable or is prohibitively expensive.

CHOICES is a similar program which is designed exclusively for people over 65. Group 1 is for persons who are in a long-term care facility. Group 2 is for people who medically need nursing home care but are living at home. People living at home who need some living assistance might qualify for Group 3. Click here for more information about CHOICES. 

If you don’t qualify, you might look into the Tennessee Respite Coalition’s companionship program. This program basically connects seniors with volunteers who assist them with some daily living activities. Some advocacy groups also connect seniors with helpers for little or no cost.

Medicare is also an option for people over 65. Pretty much everyone qualifies for Medicare, but most people must pay modest premiums.

Some seniors are on the opposite end of this spectrum. Instead of needing services for themselves, they unexpectedly find themselves caring for a friend or family member, at least on a part-time basis. These individuals routinely struggle with depression and other negative feelings. Support groups include the Family Caregiver Support Program and the Caregiver Action Network.

This is just a partial listing of services that may be available if you live in Tennessee in addition to Social Security Disability/Insurance. To apply for SSI/SSDI or if you have been turned down for benefits, contact the SSA lawyers at Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm serving the greater mid-south and beyond. You can call or text 24/7 our disability line at (901) 244-0057. Our online form can be used to provide you with a free evaluation—after you submit your free evaluation request we’ll provide some questions that can be quickly answered so we can give you an evaluation of your case. The SSA can be overwhelming. Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm is here to help take the stress out of the SSD/SSDI process for you and help you get your claim APPROVED!


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