Before delving into the SSI internet benefits, we should answer a common question - What is SSI?
SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income. This federal program provides us with monetary benefits. We're eligible if we have limited income or resources. Beneficiaries may include older people and children/adults with blindness or other disabilities.
SSI benefit amounts vary yearly. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), we can receive up to $914 each month. Couples can get $1,371 if eligible for this program.
The SSA explains that some states supplement this federal benefit with extra payments. As a result, the monthly amount is higher.
This doesn't mean all households can afford internet services or new technologies. However, we need them to work, learn, socialize, buy goods, and find key information.
Fortunately, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) provides reasonably priced internet for SSI recipients. Let's learn more about it.
Understanding SSI and Internet Access
We can receive monetary benefits from the SSI program if we have limited income. Monthly amounts vary according to several factors, such as income and living arrangements. Individuals get up to $914, and couples up to $1,317.
Eligible individuals may include the following:
● Adults aged 65 and older
● Adults with blindness or another disability
● People with limited income, including wages and pensions
● People with limited resources (belongings)
● Children aged 18 with a mental or physical condition
● Children aged 18 with conditions that may result in death
● Children aged 18 living in households with limited income or resources
US citizens, nationals, and non-citizens may be eligible for SSI benefits. However, they should live in one of the 50 states. People from the District of Columbia or the Northern Mariana Islands can also apply.
SSI recipients receive cash payments to meet their basic needs. However, many cannot afford internet services.
One in five US households doesn't have internet access. This is what the National Telecommunication Administration says.
Unfortunately, this can affect people's lives, jobs, health, and relationships. The internet and new technologies are crucial for today's society.
How Can the Internet Improve Our Lives?
The internet and digital technologies offer these benefits:
● Better access to healthcare
● Easier communication with our loved ones
● Opportunities to get involved in online activities and experiences
● Enhanced workforce development skills
● Decreased isolation and loneliness
● Increased access to social services and benefits
● Better education and learning opportunities
● Active participation in civic duties
● More opportunities to find new interests and hobbies
● Reinforced social ties
● And more
Accessing Free Internet for SSI Recipients
Fortunately, the US government knows the challenges that limited-income households face. It offers a program that provides affordable or free internet for SSI recipients.
Understanding the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)
The Federal Communications Commission wants to reduce the costs of getting online. Thus, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) grants the following discounts to beneficiaries:
● $30 per month for eligible households that need internet service
● $75 per month for eligible households in Tribal lands
Additionally, beneficiaries can receive a one-time $100 discount. They can use it to buy an electronic device, such as a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer. However, they should contribute $10-$50 toward the purchase price.
We can get low-cost internet access if our household income is 200% or less than the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Our household is eligible if we receive SSI benefits.
Households participating in other assistance programs may be eligible. This includes families who receive benefits through the following:
● Federal Public Housing Assistance
● Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
● Special Supplemental Nutrition Program
● And more
We may also receive ACP discounts for internet access if a person in our household:
● Participates in a Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program
● Participates in a School Breakfast Program
● Participates in a Tribal specific program
● Receives a Federal Pell Grant during the current year
Eligible households should also contact the participating provider. They have to select a suitable service plan and complete another application form.
We can receive these programs' monetary benefits and discounts on internet access every month. However, they're limited to one monthly service discount per household.
Program Details and Application Process
We should answer a few more questions: How can SSI recipients get free internet? How long will we receive this benefit?
The ACP provides free or low-cost internet for SSI recipients. Other households with limited incomes are eligible. Thus, the government has committed $14 billion to discounts. As such, it's a long-term program with no end date.
All households with limited income can apply for ACP discounts. This is what we should do:
Complete the application form on the ACP website or print it and send it by mail
Contact a participating provider
Submit the required documentation
Wait for the results to know if we receive approval
Sign up to get internet service
Documents We Need
These are the documents we need to apply for low-cost or free internet for SSI recipients through the ACP:
● Proof of income, such as current annual income statement or prior year's tax return
● Proof of program participation, such as a benefit award letter or statement
● Proof of identity
● Social Security Card
● Proof of address, such as utility bill or lease statement
We can find more information about the required documentation here.
Limitations or Restrictions
There are no strict limitations on internet speed or usage. We can choose an internet service plan that fits our needs.
However, if we get free internet services, we must use them at least once a month. Otherwise, we can lose this benefit.
What are the Participating Internet Service Providers?
Bridging the Digital Divide and Promoting Inclusion
Reports from Our World in Data showed that 60% of the world's population was online in 2020.
The internet brings many opportunities to all individuals. It's key for children's education when they can't attend in-person classes. Also, it helps us work from home and access telemedicine.
High-speed internet also gives us access to financial services and social support programs.
However, many of us struggle to access technology and high-speed internet. Luckily, the ACP offers affordable internet services to low-income people. This program helps overcome the disparities resulting from a lack of connectivity. Also, it reduces the digital divide.
As mentioned, high-speed internet is crucial. We need technology and connectivity to work and learn. Plus, it's necessary to take care of our health, improve our finances, connect with others, and more.
SSI recipients struggle to pay for this service. However, it's increasingly important for daily activities.
Fortunately, the Affordable Connectivity Program provides free or low-cost internet for SSI recipients. The application process is simple. Also, it can help us get online without worrying about huge monthly bills.
Let's explore available resources to find the best option for us!