Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a disability program offered to the aged (65 years or older), the blind, or the disabled who are unable to work for at least 12 continuous months. SSI is authorized under Title XVI of the Social Security Act and funded though general tax revenues.
Unlike SSDI, however, SSI applicants do not have to work and earn work credits for Supplemental Security Income. Instead, applicants must meet the criteria listed above and very specific income and resource limitations to qualify for SSI benefits.
SSI recipients are given a monthly cash payment. This payment is equal to the Federal Benefit Rate and is the maximum amount paid under the SSI program by the Federal Government. This monthly cash payment can be increased by state supplemental payments, although not all states offer this benefit. It also can be decreased if the claimant is receiving other support for food and housing from other people such as their spouse.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients will generally receive a much lower payout than a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipient. For instance, in 2014 the maximum amount allowed for a SSI recipient (or the Federal Benefit Rate paid) was $721 for an eligible individual and $1,082 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse.
SSI benefit payouts are periodically increased with the cost-of-living adjustments, which also apply to Social Security benefits, but they are not guaranteed. Contact the SSA for questions regarding SSI benefit increases.
Supplemental Security Income benefits are only available to qualified individuals who have very limited income and resources. SSI benefits can, however, be reduced or eliminated if the recipient generates too much income, accumulates too many resources, or lives with someone providing in-kind support.
In-kind support can include:
Claimants who are working and receiving Supplemental Security Income benefits must report their income to the SSA office. Failure to report work earnings can result in SSI overpayments which must be repaid to the Social Security Administration. SSI monthly payments can be terminated for recipients who earn too much money each month.
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