Everyone hopes for a financially worry-free retirement. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have one. If you know a person or couple in financial need, the Supplemental Security Income program might be of help.
Enacted into law by President Nixon as part of the 1972 Social Security Amendments, SSI is a separate low-income, need-based program and very different from SSA retirement, survivors or disability benefits.
Supplemental Security Income is a need-based federal program for a wide range of people, not only those over age 65. People with low income and few resources might be eligible for SSI if they are at least age 65, blind or disabled adults and blind or disabled children. General SSI information is at the Social Security website (www.socialsecurity.gov).
Here are some popular questions about SSI:
Question: Can you get both SSI and Social Security?
Answer: Yes. They are separate programs. If requirements for both are met, you can receive both. Income received, including from Social Security, reduces SSI amounts.
Question: How much can be received from SSI per month?
Answer: As of January 2012, the maximum SSI amount payable to an individual adult or child is $698 per month. The maximum payable to a couple if both people are eligible is $1,048 per month. Other income, including Social Security benefits, reduces these amounts. Resources of over $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple can make people ineligible even if their income is low.
Question: What counts as income and resources for SSI?
Answer: Details about what counts as income for SSI is at (www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi/text-income), for resources see (www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi/text-resources). It is very important to note that some income does not count for SSI and that many resources including the home you live in, a car and some burial funds do not count either.
Question: Do my Social Security taxes pay for SSI?
Answer: No. Costs of the Supplemental Security Income program are paid from Treasury general revenue funds, not by SSA payroll taxes.
Question: How much work is needed to receive SSI?
Answer: SSI is a low-income, needs-based program. It does not have a work requirement.
Question: Does the amount of SSI change depending with the state you live in?
Answer: The basic SSI amount is the same nationwide. Individual states can add money to the basic benefit.
In North Dakota as of December 2010, about 8,277 people of all ages received SSI benefits based on age, blindness or disability. Of the total number, 1,616 recipients were age 65 or older and 3,495 received both SSI and Social Security. Approximately $3,793,000 per month in SSI payments was being received in North Dakota at that time.
Unsure if SSI might be for you or someone you know? Contact Social Security and ask. The sooner you ask, the sooner you will find out and, perhaps, the sooner SSI benefits might begin.
Visit the SSA website at (www.socialsecurity.gov) for information, retirement planning tools and online retirement and Medicare applications. Call the SSA toll-free number 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778) from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. about your benefits or to make an appointment. Reach the Minot office directly at 866- 415-3193 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Howard I. Kossover is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Questions of general interest can be sent to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.