SSI Benefits For A Family Member With Mental Issues
Learn how an adult with mental issues may own a home and still qualify for Supplement Security Income (SSI) benefits to help pay monthly expenses.
Dear Disability Advisor,
My 56 year old brother in law has not worked since he has been 22 years old. When he was 18 his parents had him committed with schizophrenia briefly for a week or so, he begged them to come home and they let him. He never went for treatment, went off his meds and the rest of the children left the home, got married and got on with life, He continued to live at his parents house and they never forced him to get help, a job or see a doctor…fast forward 34 years and his parents are in assisted living in their mid eighties and now it is falling on us to help him. The other two siblings washed their hands of it. He still has his mental issues and thinks his nose is messed up and has had over 100k of surgery lol..and his nose is beautiful. The issue is he would definitely qualify for SS if we could get him to admit he has a problem and also see a Dr. but he is living on the streets, has over $100 k in bank and 15k of gold strapped to him in gold coins. He’s paranoid of the government or authority figures, he feels that life has been unfair to him because his nose and it has disfigured his face (which of course is not true.) We would like to help him maybe buy a little land and maybe a mobile home cash but how will he pay his monthly expenses?? So what are our options in regards to getting SS for someone who would def meet all the requirements of disability (mentally) but will not admit he needs the help? Desperate in Arizona, Audrey
I am sorry that you are dealing with such a difficult issue: that of trying to help an uncooperative family member suffering from mental illness. Not only is this a complex problem but it also takes an emotional toll on everyone, including people like you who are desperate to find a solution.
First, let me explain that your brother-in-law is not eligible for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits. A person must earn a certain number of credits (generally 20 to 40 yearly quarters of work) during the most recent 10 years prior to becoming disabled. You said he had not worked for many years so this benefit is not available to him. The other type of benefit is Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which you could help him obtain with some specific action.
SSI is based on evaluations of financial assets and health. Generally, a person cannot have countable assets of more than $2,000. (A home he is living in, a car, and a few other specific assets don’t count). So you could help him purchase a land and mobile home with his money and even pay in advance a year’s insurance and taxes to reduce his countable assets to $2,000. The next step is to get him to go for a psychological consultation to evaluate his medical condition. This does not mean he has to go for or be in treatment but a written evaluation is another part of the submission process. If you are able to persuade him to cooperate with both these actions, you will have the information to complete a request for SSI benefits. These benefits may be enough for him to live on his own more comfortably.
However, your greatest obstacle is getting him to understand and agree to this plan of action that may yield a better future for him, at least from your perspective. For your own peace of mind, you might look for mental health resources in your community to discuss the situation with professionals who are familiar with problems like yours. An excellent start is at Mental Health America of Arizona (www.mhaarizona.org) where you can get information, learn more about the specifics of mental health disability, and find counselors and other resources to help you.
I applaud your patience in tackling this issue with your brother-in-law and hope this information is helpful in finding a good resolution.
Jackie Booth, Ph.D.