Supplemental Security Income – SSI

If the applicant of a disability claim has minimal work history and/or a low or non-existence income history, the disability benefits claim would be in the form of SSI. This program is for disabled Americans who have a limited work history and qualify for disability benefits.

How much will I receive in monthly benefits?

The monthly amount of benefits a claimant receives is based on several factors such as the severity of the condition, the individual’s monthly earned/unearned income, and whether the individual has any dependents under their care. SSI benefits have on average a smaller monthly amount due to the applicant’s lack of income taxes paid to the federal government. The maximum amount of benefits any individual can receive is currently $733 per month and the cap for married couples is $1,100 per month. This maximum is called the “federal benefit rate” (FBR) and is regulated annually to correlate with the cost-of-living adjustment (inflation or deflation).

State Supplements

Most states in the U.S. have a state supplement that is an additional payment on top of the disability benefits one would receive. The extra benefits are provided to compensate for the costs of living in the state. Each state varies in the amount of additional benefits given out and can ranges from $10 to $200. State supplements also take into consideration your living situation, number of dependents or children, and your marital status. The following states do not provide state supplements:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Georgia
  • Mississippi
  • Oregon
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • West Virginia

Call your Social Security Regional Office to find out about the state supplement programs are offered within your state. See our Social Security Regional Offices page to find the number to your regional office.

In-kind Support and Maintenance

An applicant who receives food and/or shelter that they themselves do not pay for is defined as “in-kind support and maintenance” (ISM). The Social Security Administration (SSA) counts ISM as unearned income and will reduce your SSI disability benefits accordingly.

The SSA considers the following ISM:

  • The claimant has a spouse and/or child (over 18 years old) that receives earned or unearned income.
  • The claimant lives with other people but doesn’t entirely pay for his or her share for food and/or shelter.
  • The claimant’s family or friends pay for some or all of the claimant’s food and/or shelter.
  • The claimant receives subsidized employment. Subsidized employment provides disabled individuals with jobs who can’t find employment in the normal labor market; public funds pay for part or all of their earned wages.
  • The claimant receives sheltered employment. Sheltered employment provides disabled individuals work under special supervision. Sheltered employment is mostly provided by non-profit organizations and is meant to help give the disabled individuals basic skills necessary in the workforce.

The SSA has an exception to ISM where if the food and/or shelter given to the claimant is a loan and needs to be eventually paid back, the SSA will not reduce your SSI disability benefits.

Medical Documentation

When an applicant goes to file a SSI claim, it is significantly important that the proper documentation was collected before submitting the application for disability benefits. An applicant should inform his or her doctors and any other medical experts (who are knowledgeable about their condition) that he or she intends to apply for disability benefits and need all documentation necessary to prove your disability prevents you from gaining substantial gainful activity (SGA). The documentation will increase your chances of approval and potentially speed up the application process.

Concurrent Benefits

Under certain conditions, a disabled American may be able to receive Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) simultaneously. This is known as “concurrent benefits” and is only attainable if you have already been approved for SSDI with low monthly benefits. There are a few factors that can result in low monthly payments for SSDI such as:

  • The applicant had little work history.
  • The applicant received low wages throughout employment history.
  • The applicant’s disabling condition was not that severe.

When an individual who is receiving SSDI applies for SSI, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will count the SSDI benefits as unearned income. The SSA limits the amount of earned and unearned income an applicant can receive to no more than $733 per month (can be higher depending on the state you live in). You will qualify for SSI as long as your sources of income (including your SSDI payments) don’t exceed the SSI limit within your state.