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Social Security's Supplemental Income (SSI) Benefits Guide

Mon Apr 24, 2017 08:24:29AM | Categories: Social Security Supplement
Disabled veteran shopping for groceries. By: U.S. Navy photo by Photographe

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) helps over 8 million disabled, blind and elderly Americans in need every year. You can find out exactly what SSI is, who qualifies, how to apply, and how to get additional SSI benefits from your state all right here. Let's get started.


What is SSI (Supplemental Security Income)?


Supplemental Security Income is a federal welfare program, aimed at financially assisting the disabled, blind and elderly (aged 65 or older) that have little or no means of providing income for themselves. The program provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing and shelter.

The maximum federal SSI benefit for individuals, as of 2017, is $735 per month. And $1,103 for couples. This maximum amount is subject to change slightly with any given year, and in most cases will be higher as almost all states provide additional funding on top of that amount. Continue reading below for more details on that.

Read more - Supplemental Security Income Home Page



How is SSI different from regular Social Security benefits?


Social Security benefits are for retiring individuals, and payments are made based on the age you retire, and how much money you made over your lifetime of working, among other criteria.

SSI benefits are for disabled adults and children, the blind, and those 65+ years of age that have little to no income and little to no means of providing for themselves. Payments are not based on prior income, and are not funded by the same taxes.

Read more - Understanding Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Overview



Are you eligible for SSI benefits?


Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool. Use this link to find out if you are eligible for SSI benefits. The process takes about 5-10 minutes to complete, and will let you know not only if you qualify for SSI benefits, but all the other benefits you might qualify for as well. Very useful tool indeed.

** This tool will not tell you exactly how much you will qualify for, keep that in mind. Only the Social Security administration can give this information. But this is the official link the Social Security Administration provides to pre-qualify those wanting to apply for SSI benefits.

Read more - Understanding Supplemental Security Income SSI Eligibility Requirements


How to apply for SSI benefits (3 options):


1.) You can officially apply for SSI benefits online, by going to the Apply for Benefits Social Security Administration page.

2.) Call 1-800-772-1213 (or TTY 1-800-325-0778 if you are deaf or hard of hearing) to schedule an appointment to apply.

3.) Visit your local Social Security office. Use that link to find an office near you. Walk ins are welcome, but it's much faster to call first to make an appointment.

Read more - Understanding Supplemental Security Income SSI Application Process And Applicants' Rights



What's the difference between SSI and SSDI, and can I possibly qualify for both?


Both SSI and SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) are disability programs, but they do in fact operate differently. SSI benefits are paid out based on need alone, where as SSDI benefits are paid out based on work history. SSDI benefits also have a waiting period of 5 months, where SSI benefits do not have any waiting period.

You can possibly qualify for both programs at the same time, if you considered legally disabled. When you apply for SSI benefits, the SSA will let you know all programs you qualify for. If they don't mention SSDI, it certainly doesn't hurt to ask.

Read more - What Is the Difference Between Social Security Disability (SSDI) and SSI?



Get additional SSI benefits from your state


Every state except Arizona, Mississippi, North Dakota, and West Virginia currently pays an additional state supplement to its disabled residents who receive SSI. This means extra cash on top of your federal SSI benefits, unless you live in one of those 4 states.

If you live in one of these states, your federal SSI application and state application are one in the same:

  • California
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Iowa
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont


If you live in any other state, you will need to contact your state to apply for additional funding, once you know you qualify for SSI benefits in general. Use this resource to find your State's Supplemental SSI Benefits information.

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