We know readers have various questions regarding the Supplemental Security Income (SSI). We decided to set up this SSI FAQs page to address the most common questions we get.
Here are the most frequently asked questions about the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits program.
What is Supplemental Security Income?
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program, managed by the Social Security Administration, that pays monthly cash benefits to disabled, blind, or elderly people (and even some children) with little income and few assets.
In June 2019, 8.1 million people collected SSI benefits. Of that number, 1.1 million recipients were children.
In addition, for nearly 60% of recipients, SSI benefit payments represent their only source of income.
Who is on SSI?
Here is a breakdown of SSI Recipients by age groups for 2019.
Disabled Adults (Ages 18-64) – 58%
Elderly (Ages 65 or higher) – 28%
Disabled Children (Under Age 18) – 14%
How does Social Security define disability?
Social Security uses a strict definition of disability that relates to your ability to perform work and the projected length of your disability.
It requires that you submit medical records to support your application. If you have a short-term or partial disability, you are not eligible for SSI or SSDI.
Who is entitled to Social Security Disability benefits?
If you are unable to work because of a qualifying physical or mental impairment, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.
However, SSDI benefits are available to all workers who have worked at least five of the last 10 years.
If you have not worked, you may still qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
What is Counted as Income for SSI?
You are eligible for SSI only if your income falls under the income limits.
Income is any item an individual receives in cash or in-kind that can be used to meet his or her need for food or shelter.
This means that for SSI purposes, Income isn’t just money you make from a job.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) counts the value of in-kind items as part of your income.
Do I have to earn Work Credits to Qualify for SSI?
No. Unlike Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are paid out of general U.S. Treasury funds, not from Social Security taxes.
Therefore, you do not need to have worked a certain amount years, or paid FICA taxes, to be eligible.
How much does SSI pay per month?
The maximum SSI benefit an individual can receive on a monthly basis in 2020 is $783. That amount increases to $1,175 for married couples.
How long will my SSI benefits last?
Your Social Security disability benefits will last as long as you are disabled and unable to return to work.
Social Security will periodically monitor your condition, and you are required to notify the SSA if your condition improves.
Do you get health benefits with SSI disability?
If you are approved for SSI disability benefits, you are automatically eligible for Medicaid benefits.
Unlike SSDI benefits where there is a wait time to get Medicare, with SSI, there is no wait time to get Medicaid.
What Other Benefits Can I get with SSI?
If you are approved for SSI benefits, you may also be able to get other benefits from your state or county. For example, you may also be eligible for Medicaid, food stamps (SNAP), or other social services.
Call your local social services department or public welfare office for information about the services available in your state or county.
Can I get SSI benefits if I expect to get better and return to work?
You must have been disabled for at least one year or be expected to be disabled for at least one year to be eligible for SSI benefits
Therefore, if you expect to be out of work for one year or more because of illness or injury, you should file for Social Security Disability benefits.
How is SSI Different from Social Security?
Social Security retirement benefit is financed by FICA tax on employment income.
Eligibility for Social Security and how much you receive in benefits are based on work history.
However, SSI is needs-based and is not tied to employment history.
Why are my SSI payments under review?
Periodically, the Social Security Administration reviews your eligibility for SSI to make sure you are getting the payment amount you qualify for based on your situation.
In these reviews, we ask about your income, resources and living arrangements—things that can change over time.
Can I keep my benefits if I move out of the U.S.?
Whether or not you are able to keep your disability benefits if you move outside of the United States depends on several factors, including:
- What type of benefits you receive
- Where you move to
- How long you reside outside of the country
Under most circumstances, if you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and leave the U.S., your benefits will stop after 30-days and cannot be reinstated until you return to the U.S.
If I get married, will it affect my benefits?
- If you marry, your spouse’s income and resources may change your SSI benefit; or
- If you and your spouse both get SSI, your benefit amount will change from an individual rate to a couple’s rate.
Benefits for a widow, divorced widow, widower or divorced widower
- You cannot get benefits if you remarry before age 60; and
- You cannot get benefits if you are disabled and remarry before age 50.
Divorced spouse’s benefits
Generally, your benefits end if you remarry.
Benefits for a child under age 18 or student ages 18 or 19
Benefits end if you marry.
What is the Ticket to Work program?
The Ticket to Work Program provides people receiving Social Security disability benefits (SSDI or SSI) more choices for receiving employment services.
The main goal of the program is to assist people on disability benefits in reducing their reliance on disability benefits and become self-sufficient.
For more information about the program, click here.
Can I receive workers’ compensation and SSI?
Generally, if you are receiving workers’ compensation, you probably won’t be eligible to receive SSI benefits.
Can I receive both SSI and SSDI benefits?
Yes, it is possible that if you have both limited income/resources and a work history, you can qualify for both benefits.
However, in most cases, if a person receives an SSDI benefit that is higher than the maximum SSI payment, they are not eligible for SSI at all.
SSI FAQs Summary
We hope this post on SSI FAQs was helpful.
If you have further questions about Social Security, SSI or SSDI, please let us know in the comments section below.
Be sure to check out our other articles on Social Security including SSI payments Schedule.