Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal income assistance program in the United States that provides financial support to disabled, blind, or elderly individuals with limited income and resources. Here’s a breakdown of the requirements for SSI and how much you can get.
A financial advisor can help you create a financial plan for your needs and goals.
What Is SSI?
SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, is a needs-based federal program aimed at helping individuals with limited income and resources. It provides financial assistance for basic needs, healthcare coverage and even work incentives to eligible individuals.
The Social Security Amendments of 1972 created the SSI program, which began operations in 1974, aiming to alleviate poverty among the most vulnerable members of society. These amendments set out to consolidate and streamline various state-administered programs that provided aid to individuals with limited income, particularly the aged, blind and disabled populations.
Before 1972, there were a multitude of state-run programs offering aid, but these varied significantly in eligibility criteria, benefit amounts and coverage.
Noteworthy changes included standardizing eligibility criteria and benefit amounts across the country, as well as expanding coverage to include not only older adults but also blind and disabled individuals who met specific criteria regarding income and resources.
Qualifications and Benefits for SSI
To qualify for SSI, recipients must be 65 or older, blind or disabled, have limited income and resources.
According to the Social Security Administration, you cannot “earn more than $1,913 from work each month.” Additionally, your resources should not be more than $2,000 for individuals ($3,000 for couples). And, if you’re a parent applying for a child, your resource limit can increase by $2,000.
For applicants age 64 or younger, they must have a disability that affects their ability to work for at least one year, could result in death, or limits daily activity severely.
Take note: The Social Security Administrations says that applicants with disabilities will need to prove that they earned less than $1,470 per month from work in the month you’re applying. But citizens age 65 or older don’t need to have a disability to receive SSI.
Applications for SSI can be made online, by phone or in person. The process involves a detailed review of the applicant’s medical and financial information.
Monthly SSI amounts for 2024 are:
- $943 per month for an eligible individual
- $1,415 per month for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse
- $472 per month for an essential person
This is slightly up from 2023:
- $914 per month for an eligible individual
- $1,372 per month for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse
- $458 per month for an essential person
Can You Qualify for SSI and SSA Benefits?
There are specific income limits for SSI benefits, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work at all. When you work at an eligible job you can qualify for work credits which helps you qualify for disability and retirement benefits.
The Social Security Administration says that when you qualify for SSI, you may also be eligible for Social Security benefits. In fact, when you apply for SSI benefits, the application is the same application for Social Security benefits.
To qualify for Social Security benefits as a worker, you need to meet specific criteria. First, you must be at least 62 years old or have a disability or blindness. Additionally, you must have enough work credits to be insured.
Take note: For applications submitted from December 1, 1996 onwards, you are required to be a U.S. citizen or a “lawfully present noncitizen.” This means that if you do not meet these citizenship or residency requirements, you will not be eligible to get monthly Social Security benefits.
The amount you need to earn previously can vary from year to year. In 2023, you can earn a credit for every $1,640 in income ($1,730 in 2024), and must earn $6,560 ($6,920 in 2024) to get the maximum of four credits.
How to Supplement SSI
You can supplement your SSI benefits by earning income from work, receiving financial assistance from other government programs or using savings and investment accounts. Here are seven common ways:
- State supplementation: Some states provide additional funds on top of the federal SSI payment to enhance support for eligible individuals.
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): If an individual qualifies for both SSI and SSDI, they may receive benefits from both programs, potentially increasing their total financial assistance.
- Additional state and federal programs: Other government programs, such as Medicaid, food assistance programs (like SNAP), housing assistance, and energy bill assistance, can complement SSI benefits, providing further support.
- Work incentives and employment support: Programs like the Ticket to Work initiative offer resources to help SSI recipients return to work, allowing them to earn income while still receiving some benefits and support services.
- Veterans benefits: Veterans may qualify for additional benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) alongside SSI benefits.
- Supplemental nutrition programs: SSI recipients might be eligible for various nutrition programs beyond basic food assistance, like the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, offering nutritional support for specific groups.
- Local community and non-profit organizations: Charities, community-based organizations, and non-profits often offer support services, including financial assistance or vouchers, to supplement SSI benefits for necessities like rent, utilities, and medical expenses.
To qualify for SSI benefits, you must meet requirements set by the Social Security Administration’s guidelines. These establish specific income and resource limits, as well as being age, disability or blindness criteria, and U.S. citizen and noncitizen status.
Tips for Retirement Planning
- Understanding your Social Security benefits is only one part of retirement planning. A financial advisor can help you estimate your benefits and then create a plan to supplement your retirement income. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- You can also use SmartAsset’s free Social Security calculator to help you estimate what your potential benefits will be.
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