Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
The SSI program makes payments to people with low income who are disabled.
The Social Security Administration manages the SSI program. However, SSI is not paid for by Social Security taxes. SSI is paid for by U.S. Treasury general funds and not from the Social Security trust fund.
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 can also includes such things as food and shelter. But, fortunately, Social Security does not count all of your income when we decide whether you qualify for SSI. For example, they 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;
Shelter you get from private nonprofit organizations; and
Most home energy assistance.
If you are married, they also include part of your spouse’s income and resources when deciding whether you qualify for SSI. If you are younger than age 18, they include part of your parents’ income and resources. And, if you are a sponsored noncitizen, they 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 that they 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, they 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 U.S. or the Northern Mariana Islands and be a U.S. citizen or national. In some cases, noncitizen residents can qualify for SSI.
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.