SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME (SSI) OVERVIEW


WHAT IS SSI?


SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income. Social Security administers this program. We pay monthly benefits to people with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or age 65 or older. Blind or disabled children may also get SSI. 


HOW IS SSI DIFFERENT FROM SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS?


Many people who are eligible for SSI may also be entitled to Social Security benefits. In fact, the application for SSI is also an application for Social Security benefits. However, SSI and Social Security are different in many ways.

    small blue ballSocial Security benefits may be paid to you and certain members of your family if you are “insured” meaning you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. Unlike Social Security benefits, SSI benefits are not based on your prior work or a family member's prior work.

    small blue ballSSI is financed by general funds of the U.S. Treasury--personal income taxes, corporate and other taxes. Social Security taxes collected under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) or the Self Employment Contributions Act (SECA) do not fund the SSI program.

    small blue ballIn most States, SSI beneficiaries also can get medical assistance (Medicaid)- to pay for hospital stays, doctor bills, prescription drugs, and other health costs.

    small blue ballMany States also provide a supplemental payment to certain SSI beneficiaries.

    small blue ballSSI beneficiaries may also be eligible for food assistance in every State except California. In some States, an application for SSI also serves as an application for food assistance.

    small blue ballSSI benefits are paid on the first of the month.

    small blue ballTo get SSI, you must be disabled, blind, or at least 65 years old and have "limited" income and resources.

    small blue ballIn addition, to get SSI, you must also:

    • be a legal resident of the United States, and

    • not be absent from the country for a full calendar month or more or for 30 consecutive days or more; and

    • be either a U.S. citizen or national, or in one of certain categories of qualified non–citizens.

HOW IS SSI LIKE SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS?


    small blue ballBoth programs pay monthly benefits.

    small blue ballThe medical standards for disability are generally the same in both programs for individuals age 18 or older. For children from birth to age 18 there is a separate definition of disability under SSI. The medical standard is based on the severity of your disability and financial need is not considered at this step in the eligibility process.

    small blue ballSSA administers both programs.

blank spacer
NOTE
For more information on Social Security benefits, see our chapter, SOCIAL SECURITY ENTITLEMENT.

Back to the Understanding SSI Table of ContentsBack to the Top of the PageForward to SSI GENERAL INFORMATION
Back   Top  Next