The Social Security Amendments of 1972 created a new federal benefit program. This month, that program — the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program — celebrates its 40th anniversary.
Administered by Social Security, SSI is a needs-based program for people 65 or older, blind, or disabled who have limited income and resources.
For income, we count things such as wages, Social Security benefits, and pensions. However, Social Security does not count all of your income when it decides whether you qualify for SSI. For example, we don’t count food stamps or most home energy assistance.
For resources, we count the things you own, such as real estate (other than the home you live in), bank accounts, cash, stocks, and bonds. A person with resources worth no more than $2,000 may be able to get SSI. The resource limit is $3,000 for couples.
To qualify for SSI, you also must live in the United States or the Northern Mariana Islands and be a U.S. citizen or national. In rare cases, noncitizen residents can qualify for SSI. If you live in certain types of institutions or live in a shelter for the homeless, you may qualify for SSI.
People with blindness or a disability who apply for SSI may be able to get free special services to help them work. These services may include counseling and job training.
The monthly maximum federal SSI payment is the same nationwide and amounts to $698 for an individual and $1,048 for a couple. However, the amount you receive depends on factors such as where you live, your living arrangements, and your income. Some states add money to the federal payment.
Funding for the SSI program comes from the general revenues of the U.S. Treasury, not from Social Security payroll taxes.
To learn more about SSI, read the online publication, “You May Be Able To Get Supplemental Security Income (SSI)” at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/11069.html or visit the SSI page at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi.
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Phylis Dills is a Social Security public affairs specialist at Little Rock.