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  • Writer's pictureJames D. Lynch

What is Supplemental Security Income?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a Federal income supplement program, administered by the Social Security Administration, that pays monthly benefits to people with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or age 65 or older. People who qualify for SSI are also able to receive Medicaid to pay for hospital stays, doctor bills, prescription drugs, and other health costs.

Unlike Social Security benefits, SSI benefits are not based on your prior work history. A person can qualify for SSI even if they don’t have enough of a work history to qualify for Social Security benefits. In addition, SSI is funded by general tax revenues (not Social Security taxes).

To meet the resource requirements, a person must have less than $2,000 (or $3,000 for a couple) in countable resources (see A person receiving SSI benefits who has a change in resources (such as receiving a large sum of money from an inheritance or personal injury settlement) must report the change to the Social Security Administration 10 days after the end of the month in which the money was received. Severe penalties are imposed for failure to report. The receipt of the inheritance or settlement will likely cause the person’s resource to exceed the $2,000 ceiling. The person will therefore become ineligible for further SSI benefits unless the money is spent on exempt resources in the same month it is received, or the person sets up an ABLE account (if the disability began before the person was 26 years old) or a Special Needs Trust.


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