Feds to expand awareness of SSI benefits to Tennesseans
Published 9:56 am Tuesday, August 15, 2023
The Social Security Administration has taken a proactive step to bridge the gap between critical financial assistance and the people who may be eligible for it by launching a campaign to raise awareness about Supplemental Security Income benefits.
Abigail Zapote, senior adviser for the Social Security Administration, said adults and children who are blind or living with a severe disability can receive monthly payments. People 65 and older who receive Social Security retirement benefits may also be eligible. She added SSI applications in Tennessee and across the country dropped sharply following the pandemic.
“We’re focusing on the most vulnerable in our communities who really need these benefits the most,” Zapote pointed out. “We’ve targeted ZIP codes who are in the greatest decline of SSI applications. But it also means that these folks might be living at or below 150% of the federal poverty line.”
In Tennessee, more than 166,000 people receive SSI benefits, but officials believe more qualify and need the help.
Zapote reported more than 7.5 million people in the U.S. are receiving SSI benefits. The “Basic Needs” campaign includes radio and TV ads, flyers and mailers, to reach people in mostly rural and underserved areas.
Zapote emphasized many people who receive other types of benefits, including Social Security retirement income, may also qualify for SSI assistance.
“We are here to provide this additional support to people that need it,” Zapote explained. “SSI provides basic needs for rent, food, clothing or medicine. So, if you think you might be eligible, please give us a call at 1-800-772-1213.”
Zapote added Tennesseans currently receiving SNAP benefits or Medicaid could also be eligible for SSI help.