Understanding Supplemental Security Income (SSI)


Maybe you are down on your luck or you have always been unlucky. Perhaps, you made a bad investment, even though you were sure it was worth it. Or, maybe you dug yourself a hole and you want to get out of it. If you are either one of those people, then you all have something in common. You want to get out of a tight spot, but you do not know how. This is where the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program comes to play.

The Supplemental Security Income Program is one of the most common benefit programs across the United States. This program will provide assistance to anyone who has limited income or resources per month. You should understand that the federal government is trying to help you. But, remember that there are more Americans than there are government programs. (The United States population is roughly 330 million people, give or take a few million. Yeah, that is a lot of people.) (WorldoMeter)

In order to understand how to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you should first understand what is SSI income? You cannot just apply without understanding the Program. (This is not accepting Terms and Conditions of the newest version of Twitter. This is a whole other thing.)

What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

What does Supplemental Security Income mean? This is a type of assistance program that is federally offered, in order to pay individuals who have a limited income or restricted access to resources every month.

In order to receive SSI, a person will need to meet at least one of these supplemental security income requirements:

  • Be at least 65 years or older
  • Have a medical issue that prevents you from having the ability to work that will last at least a year or result in death
  • Be partially or totally blind

Not everyone will get the same amount of assistance every month. However, you may be able to get more money depending on which state you live in. Some states provide additional money to the SSI payment that you normally receive federally. Other factors like your place of residence can be an important piece of information. This affects how much assistance you will receive for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

According to Investopedia, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) “is a federal program in the United States that provides additional income for older and disabled people with little to no income. This program provides participants with monthly cash distributions to help them meet their basic needs. SSI is different from standard Social Security retirement benefits.” (Kagan)

What is the Income Limit for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program currently has an income limit. This income limit defines the eligibility for the Program and the maximum SSI payment per month. The Federal Benefit Rate determines the income limit for potential recipients. Currently in 2021, the Federal Benefit Rate outlined $794 per each individual and $1,191 per couple. (You should keep in mind that the income limit changes every year. This means that the income limit will be determined in October 2021, which will take into effect in January 2022.) The Federal Benefit Rate will gradually increase the income limit on an annual basis. The increase is adjusted, in accordance with the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment, which trails inflation.

In order to qualify for the Supplemental Security Income Payment, an individual or family’s income should not surpass the monthly SSI payment that the Federal Benefit Rate defines. But, you will find that the Social Security Administration takes into account a portion of your income towards the income limit. This means that if you are currently working, then half of your earned income will be counted for the income limit. But, you will need to contact the Social Security Administration to find out more about the income limit and eligibility.

Since states administer and run the SSI Program, there may be different eligibility requirements that you need to meet. These requirements are added to the federal requirements of the SSI Program.

Are You Eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

For you to qualify for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program, you will need to meet federal requirements of the Program. The main requirements are that you

  •  Are at least age 65 OR be blind or disabled.
  • Currently have limited income and resources.
  •  Be a citizen or a national of the U.S. or an alien who meets certain requirements.
  • Currently living in one of the 50 States, District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands, except for a child of military parent(s) assigned to permanent duty anywhere outside the United States or certain students temporarily abroad.

Additionally, there are factors that are taken into consideration for your eligibility. This includes your current marital status, your income from work per month, and your current bank balance. (So, basically your usual stalker-ish questions, but it is for a good cause.) You can find out whether you are qualified or not for the Program or any of Social Security’s Programs through a very cool tool. The Social Security Administration offers a Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool that you can use.

These eligibility requirements are created to define those who need help and how the SSI Program can provide assistance. (It’s not gym class anymore; you won’t necessarily be picked last because you’re not a quarterback.)

Determining Your Benefits

There are numerous factors that are taken into consideration when figuring out how much assistance you will receive. These factors that will determine what you can receive include your current income, accumulated worth of what you own, citizenship status, and more. For example, if you want to be SSI eligible, then as a single person, you cannot own more than $2,000 worth of items. However, if you are married, then that number becomes $3,000. These numbers are not based on big purchases, such as a home or a car. Instead, it is based on the amount of money you have in your bank account. Other considerations, like bonds and stocks, count as well.

If you want to receive any SSI payments, then you will also need to apply for Social Security benefits as well. If there are any other applicable government benefits that you may be eligible for, then you need to apply to those as well. You will also typically be able to qualify for other assistance options. This includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), as well as Medicaid (if you qualify for SSI). So, you may be able to receive assistance for all aspects of life from doctors, medical bills, and food!

You can begin the application process from the comfort of your own home. You can go online and visit  https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/forms/. From there you will be able to finish your application and submit it. However, if you want a better chance at getting approved, then it is recommended that you connect with an experienced lawyer that can help make the SSI process more manageable. You want to fill this out as soon as you are eligible, so you can get the assistance that you need.

The Application Process

Applying to the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program is free of charge and is available for the public. This means that anyone can apply and the application is free. There are different channels to apply from, each one easier than the next. You will also need to apply whenever possible, so you can receive the benefits as soon as possible.

How To Apply

There are four ways to apply for the Supplemental Security Income Program. Once you are eligible, you can select one of these three methods to apply. The first method is by visiting the Social Security Administration website and filling out the online application form. You can also apply through the online disability application. Another method of applying is through the telephone. (It may sound old school, but Millennials and baby boomers will be pleased to use this method.) In the case that you are deaf or have a hearing disability, then you can always use the telecommunications relay services.

The third method is having someone else call and make an appointment for you. You do not have to do this on your own, and it is more than preferable for someone to assist you with your SSI application. If you have a disability that requires additional assistance, the SSI takes that into consideration while looking through your application.

When To Apply

You will need to apply as soon as possible so you can receive the benefits as fast as possible. The Program pays for benefits only after the effective date of your application. (There is no advance on the SSI payments.) If you reach out to the Program to apply and submit your application in sixty days, then the day you contacted the Program is your application submission date. In the case that you do not contact the Program to reschedule or you could not keep the appointment, then the Program will try to contact you.

Documents Needed

When you apply for the SSI Program, you will need to provide documents that prove that you need assistance. After you are done with the application, then you should send in the corresponding documents that show that you are eligible to take part in the Program. The documents that you need to provide are the following:

  • Social Security Card or Number
  •  Proof of Age
  •  Citizenship or Alien Status Record
  • Proof of Income
  • Evidence or Proof of Resources
  • Proof of Living Arrangements
  • Medical Sources (If You Are Filing As Blind Or Disabled)
  • Work History

Once you have presented all of this paperwork, then you can move on to the next step. The next step is getting accepted into the Program and receiving your benefits. (Social Security )

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) vs. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

You should not get confused between Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). There may be some similarities, but these two benefits have a very important difference. The SSI payment offers basic financial assistance to individuals with disabilities and has limited income or resources. This benefits program is regardless of age; the most important aspect is that the applicant has limited income and resources. As for the SSDI, these benefits assist individuals who are disabled and have a qualifying work record. The work history could be through a family member or their own employment.

The main difference between both benefits is that the SSI determines eligibility according to age, disability, and limited income or resources. On the other hand, the SSDI determines eligibility according to disability and work credits. But, thankfully, you can qualify and receive both benefits. The only way you can do it is if you have limited income or resources and a work history. (Bauer)


Now, you know everything there is to know about the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program. It is up to you to apply, of course. If you are qualified for the Program, then we suggest that you should. (You literally have nothing to lose.) With the SSI benefits, you will be able to experience temporary financial relief. But, you have to make sure you are qualified for the Program. (There is no use in applying when you know that you will get rejected.)

Keep in mind that the SSI Program focuses on your age, disability, your limited income, and your limited access to resources. Another benefits program, the SSDI, concentrates on your disability and work history. Both programs offer financial relief, but they have different eligibility requirements.

The only question left for you is, what do you want to do about your current situation?

Works Cited

Bauer, Brandy. SSI vs. SSDI: the Differences, Benefits, and How to Apply. 23 11 2020. 11 07 2021 <https://www.ncoa.org/article/ssi-vs-ssdi-what-are-these-benefits-how-they-differ>.

Kagan, Julia. Supplemental Security Income (SSI). 26 04 2021. 11 07 2021 <https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/ssi.asp>.

Social Security . Understanding Supplemental Security Income Documents You May Need When You Apply — 2021 Edition. 2021. 11 07 2021 <https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-documents-ussi.htm>.

WorldoMeter. United States Population. 11 07 2021. 11 07 2021 <https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/us-population/>.

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