What You Should Know About the SSI Program

two people hiking with a sunsetThe Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides cash assistance to people with limited income and few resources.

But … how much do you really know about this program?

SSI provides monthly payments to people who are age 65 or older, completely or partially blind, or considered disabled under Social Security’s strict definition of disability. Social Security pays benefits to people who aren’t able to work due to a medical condition that’s expected to last at least one year or result in death. Blind or disabled children of parents with limited income and resources can also be eligible for the program.

To qualify for SSI, you’ll need to meet strict income and resources requirements. Income is money you earn, such as wages, disability benefits, and pensions. Income can also include the value of items you get from someone else, like food and shelter. Social Security doesn’t count all of your income, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Different states also have different rules on how much income you can bring in each month and still get SSI.

Resources include the things you own, although we don’t count everything. For instance, we don’t count a house you own and live in, and we usually don’t count your car. We do count income from rental property, bank accounts, cash, stocks, and bonds. Also, to receive SSI, you must meet other program rules about residency and citizenship. You can find more information about income and resources and eligibility requirements on our website.

SSI payments are the same amount nationwide. In 2016, the basic monthly SSI payment is $733 for an individual and $1,100 for a couple. However, the amount you get may be different. It depends on your income and living arrangements. Some states also add money to the basic benefit.

If you think you may be eligible, apply now. You can contact us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to set up an appointment to apply for SSI at your local Social Security office. Please visit our website for more information.



95 thoughts on “What You Should Know About the SSI Program

  1. I’m disabled collecting SSDI.
    I’m 59, too young to obtain my Social Security and Pension.
    Am I eligible for approximately 2 years of SSI payments?
    Please advise, and thank you.

      • If your SSDI payment before deduction for Medicare is higher than $753.00 you are not entitled to a federal payment. You should call the toll free # as stated in the article. You could be entitled to a State Supplement.

      • Hi Wayne, remember that the Supplemental Security Income or SSI program is a needs based program that gives cash assistance to disabled individuals with limited income and resources. The amount of SSI benefits is based, in part, on the income and resources available to the individual. For SSI eligibility, we will take into consideration any income and resources available to you. If your regular disability benefit combined with any other income, is lower than the regular monthly SSI payment (of $735), then you may still be eligible for SSI. Please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 for further assistance. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thanks.

    • Hi, Karl. Thank you for your question. The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is a needs-based program that pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources. SSI benefits are also payable to people 65 and older without disabilities, who meet the financial limits. To be eligible for SSI, a person must have $2,000 or less in countable resources. Please visit our Understanding Supplemental Security Income webpage for more information.

      • Hi I am on dialysis with kidney failure and unable to work… I applied for SSDI on Oct 10th and I applied for SSI on Dec 20. In the same day I gave the SSA a Medicare/ Medicaid renal desease papper from my doctor’s and included all my current lab results for the DDS… I couldn’t work since September 9 because of my illness. Now I’m wondering is the government betting in me to loose everything and die? I know it’s a wait but gosh I gave all the info I could. Why is it taking so long? My Medicare didn’t even go through yet. What is the issue? Haven’t received nothing from SSA yet accept a week ago I got a form which I had to how I feel and do things on a daily basis.. why do it take so long?

        • We apologize for the long waiting Michael. The length of time it takes to receive a decision on your disability claim can vary depending on several factors, and it could vary from case to case. We consider the nature of your disability and try to obtain medical evidence from your doctor or other medical sources as quickly as possible. Generally, Medicare entitlement for dialysis treatment begins the third month after the month a regular course of renal dialysis begins. This factsheet provides general information for dialysis patients. For information about Medicaid, you will need to contact your local Medicaid office. Please continue working with your local office if you have specific questions about your claim. You can also call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance. Representatives are available between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday but you will generally have a shorter wait time if you call later in the week. Thanks!

    • I am 71yrs.old and live on my Social Security which ritisis 1728 a month. Its not enough. To be able to afford food and pay me bills and utilities. I was on disability before they switch me over to SS when. I hit 66 years of age. I have rheuatoid art

      • When you became 66 years old your payment stayed the same and now comes out of the RSI fund. What is your complaint? As far as your concerned nothing changed.

        • John, I wonder how old you are and whether or not you’ve ever had to deal with a chronic condition or any type of hardship. Your comment, “What is your complaint.” is obnoxious. For those of us, who worked our entire lives only to become disabled, lose all our assets and then receive less that 50% of what we had when we COULD and DID work, it is frustrating, depressing and almost unbearable. In my case, I lost my health, my job, and my husband. I now find myself having to accept charity. I have been physically handicapped since birth and never before had asked, nor expected to need to ask, for help as I do now thanks to life’s little trifecta of catastrophes. If you make it to retirement, completely unscathed, you should consider yourself very lucky. But until or unless you spend even just a day in someone else’s shoes, try not to be so condescending and judgmental. If you are foolish enough to think this will never happen to you, enjoy your blissful ignorance as long as it lasts.

          • I can identify with you! My husband and I both worked over 35 years and do without medication we need so we can buy food! We draw a little over the poverty level so do not qualify for any other help! We cannot afford supplemental insurance! While people on ssi by the way ssi comes off the working man that pays in SS and they get free medical help plus housing heat bill paid and food stamps. They get three times what the working man gets! Also women that don’t work get all their husband drawed SS! My inco me is counted when they try to determine if my husband qualifys for medical assistance and I don’t get one Nicole from him! Sounds like idiots are us working people!

          • You are so right Kathy! I like your response to John! I read his comment and shook my head! Read your comment and smiled! Cheers for you young lady 👍

          • Hey, respectfully, this guy is so obviously here to help. I don’t think he was being rude. None of his comments are feely feely, but they are all informative and professional. I honestly think he was asking for more information, because it wasn’t clear what that person wanted help with. Are you even possibly interpreting his tone wrong? It’s hard to do that with post and comments, but I think I am a fair person and I feel he was attacked unfairly.
            His comment /questions was never implieing that someone was complaining about being disabled. He asked what her complaint was. Her issue. What is her concern??? He never said she was complaining.
            I’m disabled, too. and believe me, I have been through it pysically and emotionally and I’ve lost precious people and things, too. I know your pain. So, as somebody else looking in, I just needed to say that I hope you can consider my thoughts about it. Read some of the other post. I could be totally wrong and he hates us all, but really? I think you really jumped the gun here. I understand frustration, but you were harsh on the wrong person. just saying

      • Your Social Security Disability Income is now just Social Security retirement due to your age. Your income amount is probably still over the poverty income level, so you would not be able to receive any other assistance from the federal government and more than likely not state assistance. But depending on which state you live, you should call your state’s Department of Health & Human Services. Also you may qualify for assistance with your electric or gas (heat and/or air) costs.

        • I currently receive SSDI. My monthly payment is higher than most, so I do consider myself to be fortunate in that regard. The part that is so frustrating is that, if I received just a little bit less each month, I would be elligible for other programs such as food stamps and heating cost assistance, which would result in more total funds than I get now. So glad I worked hard and excelled so that I could end up on this side getting less than others, who chose to do less along the way. I do not begrudge anyone getting assistance, but why is the system designed to give less to those, who paid in more? (Remember, we AND our employers DID pay into the system. This is not some federal program for those, who did not.)

          • I am on ssi; worked all my life at different fobs thru different times, some tax some not , but I did hard work all my life; you make do with what you get, if I can, you can; stop the ignorant eating out , playing what the hell you are’ nt

          • Kathy,
            I know several people in your situation, just having a hair more income than necessary to qualify for benefits. The solution is, purchase dental insurance. One person I know has two policies and NO TEETH. But, the monthly premium is used in the calculations, and it lowers the adjusted income to qualify for benefits, which far exceed the cost of the dental plan.

      • You are getting more than most people, so stop complaining. Just the name was changed and you get the same, but now it’s called social security benefits.

    • In 2015, foods stamps were cut from roughly $115 per month for single disabled adults, down to $10. Food stamps are particularly vulnerable to budget-cutting measures.

    • Hi Phyllis Bell, for information about the food stamps program, also called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), you will need to contact your local SNAP office. Also, if you’re unable to work because of a medical condition, you may be eligible for disability benefits. The Social Security Act sets out a strict definition for disability. We pay disability benefits to people who are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last one year or more or to end in death. However, if a person thinks that he or she meets our definition of disability, we encourage them to apply for disability benefits when they become disabled. For more information, visit our “Frequently Asked Questions” web page on disability. We hope this information helps.

  2. If I am legaly blind trying to submit the information to social security
    To update my health where and how do I do it the local office gives Me the run around telling me they don’t know and they don’t ask questions to there supervisors

    • Do you have a relative or friend that you trust to help you with this? You need to make an appointment at your local Social Security office and have someone you trust to take you with your information.
      Be persistent! I have not ever found anyone to be rude or give me a hard time at Social Security.

    • I recommend getting a lawyer. Lawyers, who work to help people get benefits, only get paid if the case is won. Also, their payment is regulated and there is a cap on those payments. I made the mistake of trying to do it alone or with the help of familty and friends, which only delayed my approval and cost me dearly while I depleted all of my savings trying to survive.

  3. I have no faith in SSI here in CA. When I first went on SSDI I was also given a stipend of $157 a month in SSI. Over the ensuing years, politicians have whacked away at my SSI to balance their budgets. The result is that after ten year plus, I’m bringing home $57 less than I was ten years ago. Every time I’d get a small COLA, California took an axe to my SSI claiming that it was SUPPLEMENTAL, every time my SSDI managed to creep upward, my SSI was supposed to go down by a like amount. Trouble is it went down a whole faster than my SSDI was going up until finally I had no SSI at all and my SSDI was nowhere near what the combination of the two had been at the start, hence the hole I’m still in today. So I don’t get all that excited over these stories about how all these wonderful programs are there just for us elderly disabled working poor types because I know if the pols think they need that money worse than I do they’re going to take it. When I’m back to where I’m getting at least what I was getting in 2005, we can talk but at COLAs consisting of less than three dollars a year, it’s not likely to happen in what’s left of my lifetime.

    • Your SSI and Social Security received the appropriate COLA’s. California decided to reduce the State Supplement payment, your beef is with them.

    • Correct. Unfortunately, people commonly know very little about SSI or SDDI, and misinformation is common. As a result of Bill Clinton’s “reforms” besides ending actual welfare aid, the disabled/seriously ill poor became the fastest-growing group of homeless people by 2000.

    • Tom, I understand your predicament. I get just enough SSDI to be ineligible for SSI or any other assistance, such as food stamps or heating assistance. If I got less SSDI, I would have more in combined assistance. So, I now stand in line at various pantries (mostly church run and/or church funded) in need of charity to make ends meet. I guess this is what has become of “separation of church and state.” That would be funny, but it’s not. I don’t think anyone understands, until it happens to them, how devasting and depressing the situation can be. I am thankful to have what I do. I know others are finding it much more difficult to get by. However, having relatives in “poorer” countries, I also know that seniors and people with disabilities are often better off in a socialist (NOT COMMUNIST – for those of you, who have been brainwashed into being phobic) society. Why is it that the “self-proclaimed greatest country in the world” can’t do better for it’s less fortunate members? No one, who has worked all their life, all of a sudden wants a handout. We just want to be able to live with a modicum of dignity and not be made to feel like failures. The truth is, you can do everything right and still have it go terribly wrong. I wish you all the best and hope you can find some way to make things better.

  4. People on SSI get more money than I do on plain disability where I worked. Them on SSI has never worked a day in their life. Its not fair at all. Thanks

    • That is bias, there are plenty of individuals who have worked in the past and are receiving SSI, many just don’t qualify for anything else because of not having enough work history due to disability acquired at a younger age prior to obtaining enough work experience to put towards the other programs.

    • That’s not true. I worked my whole life, when not raising 4 kids. I am in constant pain now and would love to work but can’t. You are wrong in your thinking.

  5. I don’t really understand how ssi works. If I get 760 from regular social security how much more does ssi provide to you?

    • Take your gross SS payment before any deductions and subtract $20.00 which is disregarded. If the remaining amount is higher that the amount paid in your State you are due nothing further.

    • Thanks for your question. Keep in mind that the Supplemental Security Income or SSI program is a needs based program that gives cash assistance to disabled individuals with limited income and resources. The amount of SSI benefits is based, in part, on the income and resources available to the individual. For SSI eligibility, we count the gross amount of your Social Security benefit amount, minus $20. The total cannot exceed the SSI monthly payment of $735.00. See “Understanding Supplemental Security Income (SSI)-Income” web page for more information.

  6. In a nutshell, SSI/SSDI are for those who are medically determined to be disabled. SSI is for those who were in the workforce for little or no time before becoming disabled. SSDI is for those who were workers for a certain length of time before becoming fully disabled. Some receive dual benefits, which gets complicated because receiving one reduces the amount of the other.

  7. The increase of 0.3 % = a $4.00 increase here in Ohio. When in Ohio the inflation rate rose 0.8 %. So how is the government able to continue scamming the people by using C.O.L.A. when in most cases inflation rate is higher ?

    • You can’t imagine my disappointment when I learned it was 0.3 and not 3.0 percent. That turned out to be nothing compared to the fact that the resulting dollar amount was exactly equal to the amount of the increase in my Medicare. So, basically, no increase. They may just as well have made it a 30%, heck why not even a 300%, increase, if the net result to me was going to be $0.00 in the end. I practically had a nervous breakdown. All I was looking for was a few extra dollars each month, so I could afford one gallon of milk. Honestly, I don’t know what made me believe that Congress, who manages to give themselves raises whenever they like, would lift a finger to help those, who truly need it. I wonder… Do any of them have to do without milk if it goes up 10 cents? The system is completely broken and none of us should be surprised by anything that happens. I really just wish, as the saying goes, “they would stop pissing on my head, while telling me it’s raining.” I moved to TN 8 years ago, in order to be in a “no income tax” state. Well, since I have no taxable income, that turned out to be pointless. And, now I live where the sales tax is almost 10%. So, basically, I decreased my income by moving here. A word of warning: It’s going to get much worse, very soon.

  8. I am currently on SSD and should receive about 1500 a month but due to garnishments I receive only 268 a month for the next four years. I have to live in a unfinished basement as it’s only 200 a month and all I can afford. I’m really sick but cannot afford to see a doctor or have even one prescription filled. My request for assistance was denied because I should receive almost 1500(in fact i receive 268). What can I do?

  9. I have been denied. It has been a devistating experience so far. I learned funding is an issue. I had an idea that has potential but all i get is a smile & a nodd. I believe there is a funding solution. I also believe the application & hearing processes should be more civil. The DMV has better customer service.

    • Hi Derrick, I hope you will follow through with the appeal process. After putting in 27 years of work, I was a passenger in a car accident that rendered me too disabled to work in my field any longer; so I applied for SS. It took a year – 1/2 to get a denial letter. Lucky for me, I had a case manager who actually told me EVERYONE gets denied the first 2 times, and if you follow through with the appeals you will eventually get approved [if all your medical documents check out]. I know what you’re thinking; it seems like the system is set up for us to fail. I felt like that too; so now my time is spent volunteering with like-minded people to continue protecting and preserving our benefits. The government should NEVER be able to tell me they have the choice of gutting what I paid my tax dollars to afford myself for 27+ years.

      It’s harsh to think about; but please don’t give up. Go through the appeal process. Good luck to you !

  10. I currently receive 734.00 monthly on the 3rd and 20.00 on the 1st of the month.i get food stamps thats it I have three kids and they get no benefits. My rent is 350.00 monthly. My light bill been running high I paid 446.00 this month for last month I am living off that me and my kids is living in poverty. What can I do? They didn’t qualify for any benefits money wise or do I get help for my lights.

    • Goto your local human services office and they have programs that pay directly to the electric company if you do all the paperwork when they ask because there are limited funds you can qualify to get two large payments a year

  11. I am 65 yrs old. I am rated at 40% disabled thru the VA. I have not been able to find a job in over 7 1/2 yrs. I have a bad back (lower) and a ruptured disc at C6-7 with C5-6 deteriorating. I make $1331/mo from military retirement. Would I qualify?

    • Hi Doug. First of all, we want to thank you for your service to our country. Please keep in mind that the Social Security Act sets out a very strict definition of disability, much different than the requirements for other government programs including veterans benefits. Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or short-term disability. Disability benefits are paid to people who are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last one year or more or to end in death. At age 65 you may be eligible to apply for Retirement Benefits. Please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 for further assistance. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thanks.

  12. I get SSI and the max is $735 but they take $73 out every month because I work and got over paid and I’m only 30

    • One of our highest priorities is to help people with disabilities achieve independence by helping them take advantage of employment opportunities. Work incentive employment supports disabled and blind SSI beneficiaries go to work by minimizing the risk of losing their SSI or Medicaid benefits. Some incentives allow us to not count some of your income or resources. We DO NOT count the first $65 of earned income plus one–half of the amount over $65. Therefore, we reduce your SSI benefit only $1 for every $2 you earn over $65. Click here to see examples of the “Earned Income Exclusion”. Thanks!

    • Thank you for your question Lawrence. You may be eligible to receive assistance from the state where you live. These services include Medicaid, free meals, housekeeping help, transportation or help with other problems. You can get information about services in your area from your state or local social services office. You can also visit the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) web page for more information. We hope this information helps.

  13. Hi I receive ssi income and I’m 35 disabled I just moved into an extended stay hotel cause I can’t no longer afford a home. Is there any other way or how can I get social security to help me. I can barely afford copays for meds

    • You may be eligible to receive additional assistance from the state where you live. You can get information about services in your area from your state or local social services office. You can also visit the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services web page for more information. We hope this information helps.

  14. I’m a little confused. I receive SSDI for total disability (lupus, ra, ptsd, herniated disk in neck and back, degenerative disk disease). If I’m receiving SSDI, can I receive additional SSI payments?


  16. Filing Taxes ..Help Need more Understanding here, I get SSI, & I work part time..the system says I can not get a SSA 1099/ 1042s , when doing my taxes last year with turbo tax, I was in error on the state reporting because my rent along with my earned salary wasnt enough, I use $100 of my SSI for that and didnt know where to add the amount…so do I just add my monthly for 12 months and total it for that tax refund..Homestead/Heating Credit. Im using turbo again, dont know if I should add both amounts on Fed or just state, since Fed says its non taxable due to its under 25K.. what proof do I use? FORM3?

    • Hi Bobby. An SSA-1099 is a tax form we mail each year in January to people who receive Social Security benefits. It shows the total amount of benefits you received from Social Security in the previous year so you know how much Social Security income to report to the IRS on your tax return. The forms SSA-1099 and SSA-1042S are not available for people who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). For income tax related questions, you will need to contact the IRS. Their toll-free number is 1-800-829-1040. We hope this information helps you.

  17. Boehner’s back? Monoclonal antibody with up to six week recovery from painful delivery to a specific area and/or Staph infection treated with state attorney general adulterated doxycycline hyclate?

  18. yo tengo 73 años y solo recibo del seguro social por mes s 438 oo Dolrs no se si clasifico para tener beneficios Gracias

  19. is it true that if I file for disability with a lawyer, after the lawyer locks me in with a representative and fee agreement form, they deliberately slow down my application and do everything on paper instead of on- line electronically.
    The lawyers delay the disability decision by not submitting documents or using the post office instead of email in order to accure a larger retroactive benefit so they can collect more money, since they get 25% of the retro moneys when I am approved???.. and that the social security administration knows this but their willing accomplices because the workers get OT to work these paper cases that lawyers submit..why aren’t you stopping this fraud???..

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