Supplemental Security Income

Updated July 10, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

The supplemental security income (SSI) program is a federally funded program administered by the Social Security Administration. Its basic purpose is to assure a minimum level of income to people who are elderly (65 or over), blind or disabled, and who have limited income and resources.

In 1997, the maximum federal SSI payment was $484 a month for an individual and $726 a month for a couple. But in many states, SSI payments are much higher because the state adds to the federal payment.

Countable resources must be valued at $2,000 or less for an individual or $3,000 or less for a couple. But not all the things people own count for SSI. For instance, the house a person lives in and the land around it, and, usually, one car does not count.

Generally, depending on the state, people who get SSI can also get Medicaid to pay for their health care costs as well as food stamps and other social services. And in many states an application for SSI is an application for Medicaid, so people do not have to make separate applications. Certain people can also apply for food stamps at the same Social Security office where they apply for SSI.

Social Security representatives will need information about the income and resources and the citizenship or alien status of people applying for benefits. If the person is living with a spouse, or the application is for a disabled child living with parents, the same information is needed about the spouse/parents.

People who are age 65 or over will need proof of their age, while the disabled or blind will need information about the impairment and its treatment history.

It helps to have this information and evidence when you talk to a Social Security representative, but you do not need to have any of these things to start an application. All you need to do is to call Social Security to find out if you are eligible for SSI payments and the other benefits that come with it. Benefits are not retroactive, so delay can cost money.

The Social Security representative will explain just what information/evidence is needed for the SSI claim, and will provide help in getting it, if help is needed. Most Social Security offices will make an appointment for an office visit or for a telephone interview, if that is more convenient. Or people can just walk in, and wait until someone is free to help them.

Over 6 million people receive SSI benefits now. Many receive both SSI and Social Security. Do not wait. Call 1-800-772-1213, and find out more about SSI. Even the call is free!

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