Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI) ?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a benefit program managed by the Social Security Administration. SSI provides monthly payments to blind, aged and disabled people who are facing significant financial challenges. SSI is different from standard Social Security retirement benefits. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program in the United States that provides additional income for disabled and older people with no income or low income. The program provides monthly cash distributions to the participants to meet their basic needs.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program that provides a monthly stipend to individuals who meet the criteria for age, blindness or disability. SSI is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSI is funded from general funds rather than Social Security trust funds.

As of November 2021, more than 7.7 million people were receiving SSI benefits, including 2.3 million people aged 65 years and above. Social Security administers SSI, it doesn't pay for it. SSI payments are primarily available in the U.S. come from the general revenue of the Treasury. Most states supplement these federal benefits with their own payments. To avail SSI benefits, you must have very limited financial resources and must be blind, disabled or at least 65 years of age.

In 2022, the maximum monthly benefit available from federal funds is $1,261 per month for a couple and $841 per month for an individual who is both eligible for the program. Social Security benefits subtract "countable income" so you can't receive SSI benefits if your countable income exceeds the above figures.

Social Security has a complicated formula for determining income factors into SSI eligibility. For example, the money you make from work may matter, but not all of it. Regular Social Security benefits and pensions are countable. Some government assistance, such as household energy assistance and food stamps, are neither income tax refunds. Another eligibility test is financial assets, which cannot exceed $3,000 for a couple and $2,000 for an individual. Some major assets, such as homes and cars, do not fall into that limit. But Social Security will count bank accounts, bonds, stocks, cash, and real estate that isn't your primary residence.

Understanding Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

SSI is a safety net for US citizens who cannot meet basic financial needs because of their disability or age. SSI payments come on the first day of every month. Recipients may also be eligible for edible Medicaid benefits and stamps.

To become eligible for SSI, a person has to fulfill the exact requirements. Firstly, SSI candidates must be 65 years of age or above, Person must be blind or handicapped. Second, they must have limited resources, limited income, and must be a US citizen. SSI is only available to couples with assets of $3,000 or less and individuals with assets of $2,000 or less. They must meet other minor requirements, such as residency in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands.

In special cases, children under the age of 18 may be considered disabled and may earn SSI benefits and eligibility. A child's disability must result in severe functional limitations and is expected to result in death or is expected to last or last for more than 12 months.

How is SSI funded ?

SSI is available for those who meet the SSI eligibility requirements. Unlike Social Security, SSI is funded from ordinary revenue. SSI expenditure was 0.33 percent of GDP in 2012 and is expected to fall to 0.23 percent of GDP by 2037.

Purpose of SSI

  • The Purpose of the SSI program is to ensure a minimum level of income to elderly or disabled persons with limited resources and limited income. There is no disability waiting period for SSI. 
  • The Purpose of SSI is to provide funds to meet the basic needs of clothing, food and shelter.

Features of Supplemental Security Income Program

  • SSI benefits are closely linked to your living situation and family finances. Recipients must notify Social Security of any changes in these circumstances, from a pay increase or a new job to a relative contributing to the home and living expenses.
  • Disabled or blind children can avail benefits for SSI depending on their status and the financial status of the family.
  • SSI is different from Social Security Disability Insurance and SSDI. Eligibility for SSDI is determined by how long you worked, your status, and the amount of Social Security taxes you paid.
  • SSI is a separate program from Social Security income benefits for people with disabilities or retirees.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides additional income to disabled and elderly citizens who have little income to provide a basic safety net.
  • SSI pays a maximum of $841 per month to eligible individuals or $1,261 per month to couples.
  • Many states also provide supplemental income in addition to federal SSI to those in need.
  • There are specific requirements for SSI, including limited income.

Income Limit for SSI

The federal benefit rate (FBR) outlines the SSI income limits and maximum monthly SSI payments for eligibility. The FBR currently sets the monthly payment at $841 for an individual and $1,261 for couples. The FBR will increase marginally each year in conjunction with Social Security cost-of-life adjustments and inflation tracking.

As mentioned by FBR, the combined income of an individual or couple cannot exceed the monthly SSI payment to become SSI eligible. However, only portions of an individual's income count towards the income limit. For example, if a person earns money by working, only half of the amount earned each month over the first $65 will be counted when determining eligibility. Therefore, it is essential to contact the SSA regarding an individual's specific income and qualifications.

Special Considerations

Most states will add federal money to SSI payments. This added money will increase both the amount of monthly SSI payments for eligibility and the income level allowed. The dosage of the supplement varies from state to state. According to the SSA website, Mississippi, Arizona, West Virginia, North Dakota and the Northern Mariana Islands do not offer the state supplement, meaning people in these states can only earn eligibility and pay based on the FBR outlined federal minimum.

SSI Benefits

Once a person qualifies for Supplemental Security Income, that person is automatically eligible for a number of other assistance programs permitted by federal and state law. An SSI recipient can act as a safety net for those involved in the program and can benefit from all the programs listed. Following are the additional benefits of SSI :
  • Medicaid to help purchase medicine and hospital care for the blind, aged and disabled.
  • Food Stamps (SNAP) for the purchase of food (How much you can get in food stamps depends on the person's state of residence.)
  • Housing Choice Voucher Program, commonly known as HUD Section 8. SSI recipients are automatically entitled to Section 8 housing as they meet the low income criteria yet they have to be approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • Ticket to work, all small scale industry beneficiaries aged 18-64 who are interested in working are eligible for free employment support services through the Social Security Administration.
  • The ExtraHelp Program and Medicare Savings Programs help cover medical expenses for individuals who are SSI recipients who are eligible for Medicare.

Who is Eligible for SSI ?

Old, blind and handicapped persons can get the benefit of SSI. Disabled children and dependent children of the recipient can also receive SSI payments. SSI benefits are for people 65 and older, and SSI uses the same disability criteria as SSDI.

SSI based on work history doesn't work. Even after getting all the entitlement benefits, the person can get SSI stipend if the income is under the limit. Generally, individuals who do not have a significant work history will be the recipients of SSI.

SSI Eligibility Criteria

Individuals need to fulfill the following requirements to avail SSI benefits :
  • The person whose age is 65+ years.
  • Persons who are blind or handicapped.
  • Individuals who have income and resources within certain limits.
  • A person who is legally residing in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia or the Northern Mariana Islands.
  • Children of military parents assigned to permanent duty outside the United States, or who are temporarily students abroad.
In some cases, individuals may be eligible for Social Security benefits and small scale industry benefits. For example, a disabled person who has worked in Social Security covered employment and has limited income and resources can receive Social Security disability benefits and partial SSI benefits.

Required Documents while Apply for SSI

Take the following documents with you to the Social Security office. These documents will be required to apply for SSI :
  • Your child’s Social Security card
  • Your child’s birth certificate
  • Your latest pay stub
  • Your latest bank statement
  • Proof of where you live, such as a utility bill, mortgage payment or lease
  • The report from your doctor that says your child has a disability
  • Citizenship or immigration papers if required
  • Names, addresses and phone numbers of all of the doctors, hospitals and therapists who have seen your child in the last year
  • A list of any medicine your child takes
  • The names, addresses and phone numbers of your child’s schools and teachers
  • The names, addresses and phone numbers of your child’s caseworkers
  • Your child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP)
  • Names and Social Security numbers of everyone in your house
Note: Keep your appointment even if you do not have all the documents. The Social Security Office can help you obtain the papers. To find a Social Security office near you, call 1-800-772-1213 or visit the Social Security Office Locator website.

How to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) ?

Before further applying to receive disability benefits, individuals must fill out an Adult Disability Report. Individuals can apply for Supplemental Security Income by:
  • Calling toll-free number : 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or
  • Calling a local Social Security Office (By finding your local office)
In some situations, individuals can apply online through the SSA's website. A parent or guardian can complete the application process for child disability cases by filling out an online disability report. The SSA will then assist the parent in completing the application. In adult disability cases, SSI and Social Security can apply for disability online. Individuals 65 or older must call the SSA to apply. With regard to SSI benefits for persons above 65 years of age, there is no online application process.

Apply for SSI Online

You can also apply online for SSI benefits :

You can visit the Apply Online for Disability Benefits website to start the disability application process online.

Social Security publications and information are available at: