Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
This booklet explains what Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is, who can get it and how to apply. It provides basic information and is not intended to answer all questions. For specific information about your situation, you should talk with a Social Security representative.
The SSI program makes payments to people with low income who are age 65 or older or are blind or have a disability.
The Social Security Administration manages the SSI program. Even though Social Security manages the program, SSI is not paid for by Social Security taxes. SSI is paid for by U.S. Treasury general funds, not the Social Security trust funds.
What is SSI?
SSI makes monthly payments to people who have low income and few resources and are:
- Age 65 or older;
- Blind; or
If you are applying for SSI, you also should ask for What You Need To Know When You Get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) (Publication No. 05-11011).
Disabled or blind children also can receive SSI. You can get more information in Benefits For Children With Disabilities (Publication No. 05-10026).
The basic SSI amount is the same nationwide. However, many states add money to the basic benefit. You can call us to find out the amounts for your state.
Rules for getting SSI
Your income and resources
Whether you can get SSI depends on your income and resources (the things you own).
Income is money you receive such as wages, Social Security benefits and pensions. Income also includes such things as food and shelter. The amount of income you can receive each month and still get SSI depends partly on where you live. You can call us to find out the income limits in your state.
Social Security does not count all of your income when we decide whether you qualify for SSI. For example, we do not count:
- The first $20 a month of most income you receive;
- The first $65 a month you earn from working and half the amount over $65;
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as food stamps;
- Shelter you get from private nonprofit organizations; and
- Most home energy assistance.
If you are married, we also include part of your spouse’s income and resources when deciding whether you qualify for SSI. If you are younger than age 18, we include part of your parents’ income and resources. And, if you are a sponsored noncitizen, we may include your sponsor’s income and resources.
If you are a student, some of the wages or scholarships you receive may not count.
If you are disabled but work, Social Security does not count wages you use to pay for items or services that help you to work. For example, if you need a wheelchair, the wages you use to pay for the wheelchair do not count as income when we decide whether you qualify for SSI.
Also, Social Security does not count any wages a blind person uses for work expenses. For example, if a blind person uses wages to pay for transportation to and from work, the wages used to pay the transportation cost are not counted as income.
If you are disabled or blind, some of the income you use (or save) for training or to buy things you need to work may not count.
Resources (things you own)
Resources that we count in deciding whether you qualify for SSI include real estate, bank accounts, cash, stocks and bonds.
You may be able to get SSI if your resources are worth no more than $2,000. A couple may be able to get SSI if they have resources worth no more than $3,000. If you own property that you are trying to sell, you may be able to get SSI while trying to sell it.
Social Security does not count everything you own in deciding whether you have too many resources to qualify for SSI. For example, we do not count:
- The home you live in and the land it is on;
- Life insurance policies with a face value of $1,500 or less;
- Your car (usually);
- Burial plots for you and members of your immediate family; and
- Up to $1,500 in burial funds for you and up to $1,500 in burial funds for your spouse.
Other rules you must meet
To get SSI, you must live in the United States or the Northern Mariana Islands and be a U.S. citizen or national. In some cases, noncitizen residents can qualify for SSI. For more information, ask for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) For Noncitizens (Publication No. 05-11051).
If you are eligible for Social Security or other benefits, you should apply for them. You can get SSI and other benefits if you are eligible for both.
If you live in certain types of institutions, you may get SSI.
If you live in a city or county rest home, halfway house or other public institution, you usually cannot get SSI. But there are some exceptions.
If you live in a publicly operated community residence that serves no more than 16 people, you may get SSI.
If you live in a public institution mainly to attend approved educational or job training to help you get a job, you may get SSI.
If you live in a public emergency shelter for the homeless, you may get SSI.
If you live in a public or private institution and Medicaid is paying more than half the cost of your care, you may get a small SSI benefit.
How to apply for SSI
If you are applying for SSI, you can complete a large part of your application by visiting our website at www.socialsecurity.gov. You also can call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 to ask for an appointment with a Social Security representative.
Parents or guardians usually can apply for blind or disabled children under age 18. In some cases, other third parties can apply for children.
You should bring certain items when you apply. Even if you do not have all of the things listed below, apply anyway. The people in the Social Security office can help you get whatever is needed. Please bring:
- Your Social Security card or a record of your Social Security number;
- Your birth certificate or other proof of your age;
- Information about the home where you live, such as your mortgage or your lease and landlord’s name;
- Payroll slips, bank books, insurance policies, burial fund records and other information about your income and the things you own;
- The names, addresses and telephone numbers of doctors, hospitals and clinics that you have been to, if you are applying for SSI because you are disabled or blind;
Source: Social Security Administration. www.socialsecurity.gov