Supplemental Security Income

Title XVI of the Social Security Act authorizes a federally administered cash assistance program to provide people who are needy, aged, blind, or disabled with a minimum income. Payments are available only to persons who are needy and aged, blind, or disabled and meet a statutory test of financial need.

Unlike Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits, which are derived from a special trust fund financed through Social Security taxes, SSI benefits are paid from general revenues appropriated through Congress.

Monthly payment rates for individuals and couples are indexed to the Consumer Price Index and increased by the same percentage as Social Security benefits. The Social Security Administration is authorized to make emergency advance payments at the full SSI monthly benefit rate to individuals who are presumptively eligible for SSI benefits and who face a financial crisis.

In addition to meeting an income test, an individual must have personal resources beneath certain statutory limits. For example, a couple with savings in excess of $3,000 is not eligible for SSI

States may elect to supplement the basic federal SSI payment.

Adults under the age of 65 who are receiving SSI benefits must be referred to the state vocational rehabilitation agency for evaluation if they are eligible for voc-rehab services. Similarly, child recipients under age 16 must be referred to the designated state agency serving children with disabilities. SSI recipients may not, without good cause, refuse rehabilitation services.

If a recipient is able to work even though he/she has not recovered from the disability, special SSI benefits and continued Medicaid coverage are authorized. An individual may qualify for continued Medicaid coverage even after exceeding the cutoff for SSI earnings.


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