What is Supplemental Security Income and How Can I Get It?

Picture of forms calculating supplemental figure.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to provide financial assistance to individuals with limited income and few assets. The program aims to offer a basic level of support for elderly, blind, or disabled individuals. To qualify for SSI, individuals must meet specific income and asset limits and be over the age of 65, blind, or disabled. Payments under SSI are determined by financial need, intending to assist with basic living expenses like food and shelter.

Distinguishing SSI from Social Security Disability (SSDI)

It’s crucial to distinguish SSI from the disability coverage provided by the Social Security Disability (SSDI) program, even though both are administered by the SSA. Both programs offer financial assistance to disabled individuals, but they have key differences.

SSI is a needs-based program, focusing on providing financial aid to those with limited income and assets. Eligibility criteria include age over 65, blindness, or disability, with specific income and asset limits.

Conversely, SSDI assists disabled individuals who have contributed to the Social Security system through payroll taxes. Qualification for SSDI requires a work history, a severe and long-term disability, and adherence to the SSA’s disability definition.

Federal Nature of SSI and State Variations in SSDI

Another distinction lies in the federal nature of SSI; its payments and eligibility criteria remain consistent across all states. In contrast, SSDI payments and eligibility criteria may vary depending on the state of residence.

Receiving Both SSI and SSDI: Uncommon but Possible

While it is uncommon, individuals can potentially receive both SSI and SSDI. The application methods for these benefits include online applications through the SSA’s website, phone applications by calling the toll-free number (1-800-772-1213), in-person visits to local Social Security offices, or requesting mailed application forms by contacting the toll-free number.

Navigating the Application Process

Applying for SSI or SSDI can be a lengthy and complex process. It is highly advisable to seek assistance from an advocate or attorney experienced in handling Social Security disability claims. Before applying, individuals should ensure they have all necessary documents and information ready, such as proof of income, medical records, and other relevant documentation.

Maximizing Social Security Benefits with Professional Guidance

Fee-Only financial advisers, accountants, and attorneys specializing in social security can assist in determining the best strategy to maximize Social Security benefits based on individual circumstances. Regardless of marital status, considering all relevant factors can significantly impact the dollar amount of benefits received. Seeking guidance from Fee-Only professionals ensures the potential for receiving the maximum benefits available.

About This Article

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