Understanding Supplemental Security Income

Some people who are unable to work due to a disability are able to apply for Social Security Disability Income. However, they must have worked at a job and contributed to Social Security for a certain amount of time and in the recent past.  

If you are not eligible for SSDI benefits due to a lack of work history, there is another option. Supplemental Security Income pays benefits to disabled applicants that meet the requirements.  

SSI basics

According to the Social Security Administration Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool, Supplemental Security Income does not come from Social Security taxes like SSDI does; rather, the benefits come from general funds in the U.S. Treasury. To be eligible, an applicant must meet all of the requirements: 

  • Face a disability, be blind or be 65 years of age or older 
  • Be a U.S. citizen or an alien that meets requirements 
  • Have limited resources and income 
  • Live in the country, be a student in another country or be a child of a military family abroad 

Other information regarding SSI benefits

According to AARP, the Social Security Administration takes into account the applicant’s income when determining SSI eligibility. This includes what one makes at a job, normal Social Security benefits and pensions, but it does not include tax refunds or government benefits such as housing assistance or food stamps.  

An applicant must also not have financial assets higher than a certain amount. Assets include cash, bank accounts, stocks, bonds and secondary real estate but not the applicant’s primary vehicle and house. The SSA also counts income and assets from the spouse when determining eligibility. 

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