Supplemental Security Income (SSI): Legal Definition

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a government-run disability benefits program. The program helps aged, blind, and disabled people who are within a lower income bracket. It is a means-tested program, meaning it exists to provide benefits to those with a financial need. To get approved for benefits, an SSI applicant must qualify on a medical basis as well as on a non-medical basis. Qualifying on a non-medical basis requires having income and total assets below certain thresholds.

How SSI Works

SSI is run by the government and administered by the Social Security Administration. However, it receives its funds from general tax revenue. The Social Security trust fund, therefore, does not affect SSI. The program operates similarly to other means-tested benefits programs. Applicants qualify based on financial need.

Many people confuse SSI with the other Social Security disability program, SSDI, which stands for Social Security Disability Insurance. Although the two programs have the same medical qualifying criteria, there is a major difference between them. SSDI operates like an insurance program, and only those who have worked enough may receive benefits. With SSI, your benefits do not depend on how much you have worked.

How to Apply for SSI

To apply for SSI, you must fill out an application and submit it to the Social Security Administration. In addition, you will need to submit detailed medical records. You may also need to submit income documents to verify that you meet the program’s financial need requirements.

Work with a lawyer when preparing your SSI application. The process can be complex.

How Much You Can Receive From SSI

The maximum monthly SSI benefit as of 2018 is $750 for an individual and $1,125 for a couple. If you have what the SSA calls “countable income,” however, this amount will get subtracted from your monthly award. For example, if you are single and your countable income is $250, your monthly award would be $500.

Not all income you receive is countable. SSI allows you to deduct or exclude several types of earnings.

Call for a Free SSI Case Evaluation

The Social Security disability attorneys at the Disability Advantage Group, want to help you with your application for Social Security disability benefits. If you have applied and been denied, we can help you put together an appeal. Call us today at 865-566-0800 for a free case evaluation.