Understanding Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program administered by Social Security that benefits people with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or age 65 and older.  Blind or disabled children may also receive SSI.

To receive SSI you must reside in the United States, not be absent from the country for 30 consecutive days or more, and be either a U.S. citizen or national, or a qualified non-citizen.

Many people who are eligible for SSI may also be entitled to Social Security Benefits.  However, SSI and Social Security differ.  Social Security benefits are paid to individuals who have worked long enough and paid Social Security Taxes, where SSI benefits are not based on prior work.  SSI is financed by general funds of the United States Treasury, personal income taxes, corporate and other taxes, and Social Security taxes do not fund the SSI program.

To qualify for SSI you must have limited income and few assets.  Effective January 2019, prior to reaching full retirement age, you will be able to earn up to $17,640.  After that, $1 will be deducted from your payment for every $2 that exceeds the limit.  Social Security requires SSI recipients to have less than $2,000 in assets for a single person, and less than $3,000 for a couple.   

The maximum Federal amounts of SSI that can be received are $771 per month for an eligible individual, and $1,157 per month for an eligible couple.  SSI benefits are paid on the first of the month, and recipients can also receive medical assistance (Medicaid) to pay for hospital stays, doctors bills, prescription drugs and other health costs.

If you are interested in applying for SSI you can schedule an appointment with a local Social Security office by calling 1-800-772-1213 or file an application online at www.ssa.gov.

You May Qualify for a Renter’s Tax Deduction

April 15th is fast approaching and everyone is searching for deductions that they can claim on their tax returns.  California renters who meet income and other requirements, can apply for a Nonrefundable Renter’s Credit of $60 (if filing separately) or $120 (if filing jointly).  Since mobile home owners rent their space they may qualify for the tax deduction.

The following must be met in order to qualify:

  1. You were a California resident for the entire year.
  2. Your California adjusted gross income is: $41,641 or less if your filing status is single or married filing separately. $83,282 or less if you are married filing jointly, head of household, or qualified widow(er).
  3. You paid rent for at least half of the year for property in California that was your principal residence.
  4. The property you rented was not exempt from California property tax
  5. You did not live with another person for over half of the year (such as a parent) who claimed you as a dependent.
  6. You were not a minor living with and under the care of a parent, foster parent, or legal guardian.
  7. You or your spouse were not granted a homeowner’s property tax exemption during the tax year.

Other deductions you may also be able to claim include home office deductions, job hunting costs and charitable giving.  If you have a home office that is used exclusively for business, you may be able to allocate a percentage of your rent, utilities, renter’s insurance and other expenses as a tax deduction.  Remember, if you do have a home office, make sure you are complying with all of the rules of the mobile home community in which you live.  If you looked for a new job, you may be able to get an income tax deduction for your job-search related costs such as the cost for resumes and postage, telephone charges and local travel for interviews.  And last, if you donated your time or goods to a charity, you may be able to deduct the value of the items you donated, the miles you traveled and the expenses you paid on behalf of the charity.

Be sure to check with your tax advisor or tax preparer to see if you qualify for the Nonrefundable Renter’s Credit or other deductions.  You may also contact the California Franchise Tax Board at 1-800-852-5711.


Cupid’s Bow and Arrow Shine Strong on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is celebrated annually on
February 14, originating as a Christian Feast
day honoring Saint Valentine. This holiday
celebrates romance and love throughout
many regions of the world.

In Roman mythology, Cupid is the son
of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty.
Cupid is often depicted with a bow and
arrow to pierce hearts, and cast a spell of
love. This spell is expressed in many ways on
Valentine’s Day, and Americans spend a lot
on love.

According to a survey by the National Retail
Federation, Americans spent $19.6 billion
for Valentine’s Day in 2018, and that figure
is projected to increase in 2019. Some of the
most popular items purchased on Valentine’s
Day are red roses, the flower of love, and
fancy heart shaped boxes of chocolates where
caramels and chocolate covered nuts are
among the most popular.

There are over 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards
exchanged every year in the US, and even
though Valentine’s Day has become one of the
most popular days to get engaged, 30% of all
adults skip celebrating the holiday entirely.
So, whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day
with a significant other or by yourself, this
day of love is to be enjoyed by all.

Source: www.womansday.com

It’s Cold and Flu Season, Are you prepared?

In the United States, flu season occurs in the Fall and Winter.  Influenza viruses circulate year-round, but most flu activity peaks between December and February, and can last as late as May.

The Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs.  It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.   The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that the best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine, but is the vaccine right for you?

The CDC recommends that you should get a flu vaccine before flu begins spreading in your community.  It takes about 2 weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body.  The CDC also recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine.  Vaccination to prevent influenza is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complication from influenza, such as children younger than 5, adults 65 and older, and pregnant women.

As an added convenience, many drug stores and retail outlets provide flu shots.  It is easy to simply get a flu shot during your shopping trip!   For more information regarding the flu vaccine, contact your physician.

Source:  cdc.gov/flu