Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security and Disability Benefits
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. I then left and worked in New York and New Jersey for 10 years and then I returned to Puerto Rico where I live now. My younger brother also left Puerto Rico many years after me, and he worked in New York and New Jersey, and he still lives in New York. Both of us worked in the same company in New York and New Jersey. The jobs we had usually paid a little more than minimum wage. When I reached retirement age, I applied for retirement benefits at my local Social Security Administration office in Puerto Rico. I was told my retirement benefit amount was $700 per month. Two years later, my brother in New York retired at age 66. His retirement benefit was $728, but he also got several hundred dollars more under SSI (Supplemental Security Income). So I went back to the Social Security office in San Juan to apply for SSI. But I was told there was no SSI in Puerto Rico. Is that correct?
Yes, correct. SSI is available to residents of the 50 states. SSI is not available in Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands.
I stopped working more than 15 years ago due to a partial leg amputation. I got a prosthesis, but I was never able to return to work activity, because there were always problems with the prosthesis and I needed many additional surgeries during the past 15 years to improve the prosthesis performance. The last surgery improved the prosthesis somewhat, but I now suffer with diabetes which makes me feel very fatigued all day. I am now 55 years old and my wife lost her job. Can I apply for SSI and get benefits right away?
Yes, assuming you meet certain financial criteria of less than $3,000 (per couple) in cash assets, and other criteria, you are entitled to SSI benefits. Social Security regulation 20 C.F.R. 416. 962(b) states that if you have a severe medically determined impairment, no past relevant work (work performed within the last 15 years), have a limited education and reached the age of 55, an award of benefits to you will follow.