Supplemental Security Income - SSI

DEFINITION of 'Supplemental Security Income - SSI'

A federal program that provides additional income for older and disabled people with little to no income stream. This program helps the participants meet their basic needs by providing them with monthly cash distributions. The program is funded by tax revenues received by the government.

BREAKING DOWN 'Supplemental Security Income - SSI'

This type of program is a type of safety net for citizens of the U.S. who cannot meet their basic financial needs because of their age or a disability. Payments for the program are made on the first day of the month and can also include food stamps and Medicaid benefits.

To learn more about SSI, read What's the difference between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

There are very specific requirements that need to be met in order for a person to become eligible for SSI. First, candidates for SSI must be either 65 or older, blind or disabled. Second, they'll need to have limited income, limited resources and be a U.S. citizen or national. Finally, there are other small requirements that must be met, like residency in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia or the Northern Mariana Islands.

In special cases, children under 18 may be considered disabled and earn eligibility for SSI. For these children who qualify, the disability must result in severe functional limitations, death or be expected to last longer than 12-months.

Income Limit for SSI

The Federal Benefit Rate (FBR) outlines both the SSI income limit for eligibility and the maximum monthly SSI payment. The FBR currently sets monthly payments at $733 for an individuals and $1,100 for couples, as of 2016. The FBR will increase annually in relation to the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment.

To become eligible for SSI, a person or couple's combined income cannot exceed the monthly SSI payment as outlined by the FBR. However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) only counts portions of a person's income towards the income limit. For example, if a person is earning money from work, less than half of the total amount earned will be counted when determining eligibility. Therefore, it's important to contact the SSA regarding a person's specific income and eligibility.

Understanding State Supplements

Most states will add money to the federal SSI payments. This added money will increase both the allowed income level for eligibility as well as the amount of the monthly SSI payment. The amount of the state supplement varies from state to state, but a person should expect to receive a supplement between $10 and $400 from the state in which they reside. However, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia do not offer a state supplement, meaning that people in those states can only earn eligibility and payment based on the federal minimums outlined by the FBR.