(SSI) Supplemental Security Income

The Supplemental Security Income program is a cash assistance program which is based on an individual’s financial need, not on an individual’s work history. The SSI is financed by general tax funds of the U.S. Treasury. The SSI program was set up to help the blind, disabled, and elderly people with little or no income by providing them with a monthly check to pay for food, clothing, and shelter.

In order to be eligible to receive SSI benefits, an individual must be physically or mentally disabled, blind, or be at least sixty-five years old. An eligible candidate must also have limited resources and income. Children who are blind or disabled are also eligible to receive SSI funds.

People who receive SSI are usually also eligible to receive monthly food stamps and Medicaid, which helps pay for doctor visits and hospital bills. The amount of SSI an individual can receive depends on where the person lives, what he or she owns, and the amount of monthly income the person brings in. Thus, SSI benefits are more limited than SSDI benefits..

What is SSI?

Supplemental Security Income Program (SSI)

The SSI program makes cash assistance payments to aged, blind, and disabled persons (including children) who have limited income and resources. The Federal Government funds SSI from general tax revenues. Many states pay a supplemental benefit to persons in addition to their Federal benefits. Some of these states have made arrangements with us to combine their supplemental payment with our Federal SSI payment into one monthly check to you. Other states manage their own programs and make their payments separately. Title XVI of the Social Security Act authorizes SSI benefits.

Comparison of the SSDI and SSI Disability Programs

The SSDI and SSI programs share many concepts and terms, however, there are also many very important differences in the rules affecting eligibility and benefit payments. The following table summarizes differences between the SSDI and SSI programs. These differences are important as many persons may apply or be eligible for benefits under both programs.

Comparison of the SSDI and SSI Disability Programs

Source of payments Disability trust fund General tax revenues
Minimum Initial Qualification Requirements
    • Must meet SSA’s disability criteria
  • Must be “insured” due to contributions made to FICA based on your own payroll earnings, or those of your spouse or your parents
    • Must meet SSA’s disability criteria
  • Must have limited income and resources
Health Insurance Coverage Provided Medicare. Consists of hospital insurance (Part A), supplementary medical insurance (Part B), and Medicare Advantage (Part C). Voluntary prescription drug benefits (Part D) are also included. Title XVIII of the Social Security Act authorizes Medicare. Medicaid. Medicaid is a jointly funded, Federal-State health insurance program for low-income and needy individuals. It covers certain children, some or all of the aged, blind, and/or disabled in a State who are eligible to receive Federally assisted income maintenance payments. Title XIX of the Social Security Act authorizes Medicaid. The law gives the States options regarding eligibility under Medicaid.
How do we figure your monthly payment amount? We base your SSDI monthly payment amount on the worker’s lifetime average earnings covered by Social Security. We may reduce the amount if you receive Workers’ Compensation payments (including Black Lung payments) and/or public disability benefits, for example, certain state and civil service disability benefits. Other income or resources do not affect the payment amount.We usually adjust the monthly payment amount each year to account for cost-of-living changes.We can also pay SSDI monthly benefits to dependents on your record, such as minor children. To figure your payment amount, we start with the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR). In 2011, the FBR is $674 for a qualified individual and $1,011 for a qualified couple. We subtract your countable income from the FBR and then add your state supplement, if any. We do not count all of the income that you have. The income amount left after we make all the allowable deductions is “countable income”. The sections on SSI employment supports explain some of the ways that we can exclude income. We usually adjust the FBR  each year to account for cost-of-living changes.
Is a State Supplemental Payment provided? There is no State Supplemental payment with the SSDI program. Many states pay some persons who receive SSI an additional amount called a “state supplement”. The amounts and qualifications for these state supplements vary from state to state.