Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program that supports older adults and those who have a disability, like blindness. You must meet specific requirements to qualify for SSI, such as not exceeding the income limit. Learn how SSI works, and the amount you can receive in 2022, to help you support you or your loved ones financially.

Lindsey Crossmier, writer for RetireGuide
Fact Checked
Fact Checked

Our fact-checking process starts with vetting all sources to ensure they are authoritative and relevant. Then we verify the facts with original reports published by those sources, or we confirm the facts with qualified experts. For full transparency, we clearly identify our sources in a list at the bottom of each page.

Cite Us
How to Cite RetireGuide.com's Article

APA Crossmier, L. (2022, August 2). Supplemental Security Income (SSI). RetireGuide.com. Retrieved August 14, 2022, from https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-planning/elder-law/social-security-disability-lawyer/ssi/

MLA Crossmier, Lindsey. "Supplemental Security Income (SSI)." RetireGuide.com, 2 Aug 2022, https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-planning/elder-law/social-security-disability-lawyer/ssi/.

Chicago Crossmier, Lindsey. "Supplemental Security Income (SSI)." RetireGuide.com. Last modified August 2, 2022. https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-planning/elder-law/social-security-disability-lawyer/ssi/.

What Is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Supplemental Security Income was established in 1972 and is currently run by the Social Security Administration. The program provides older or disabled Americans with an extra stream of income for basic needs. If you qualify, you will receive monthly payments electronically. Your monthly benefit amount ranges depending on where you live, your condition, income and living arrangements.

As of June 2022, over 5 million individuals receive benefits from SSI. This includes those over 65 years old, as well as those with a disability or blindness.

A projection study from the Social Security Administration predicts that the federal SSI recipient population will be about 8.3 million by 2046.

Did you know?
You don’t need a home to receive SSI. If you are homeless, you can receive monthly payments electronically. An organization can also serve as your mail drop-off location, allowing you to pick up important correspondence if needed.

The older you get, the higher the risk for developing a disability. Learning about protections as you age, like elder laws and SSI, can help guarantee your financial and physical protection.

You must meet certain qualifications to become eligible for SSI. Your overall health and financial situation will be the biggest factors.

SSI Requirements for Eligibility

To be eligible for SSI, you must either be 65 or older, be fully or partially blind, or have a medical condition that lasts one year or until death. Your age and health aren’t the only required factors to be eligible for SSI. Your income and citizenship also come into play.

Eligibility for SSI
  • Your resources must be worth no more than $2,000 if you are single, or $3,000 for a married couple. Only some items count as resources. Your house or car, for example, do not. Cash, stocks and bonds are acceptable resources.
  • Your income must be below a certain amount. There are different income limits to qualify depending on what state you live in.
  • You must live in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia or Northern Mariana Islands
  • You must be 65 or older.
  • You must have a disability or blindness that will last a year or until death.
Source: Social Security Administration

There are some noncitizen exceptions for SSI. For example, you could qualify if you’re a noncitizen that has been proven to be a victim of certain types of human trafficking in the United States within the last seven years.

Most think SSI is only for those over 65 years old, but this is not the case. Those under 65, or even under 18 years old, can qualify for SSI.

Those younger than 65 must have a severe disability that matches the Social Security’s definition of disability and blindness. If you are over 65, then your disability does not have to match the definition below. This means, your impairment can be minor, and you would still qualify for benefits.

Social Security Administration’s Definition of Disability and Blindness
The disability or impairment must prevent the individual from doing any substantial gainful activity and last a year minimum or until death. To be considered blind, the individual must have a central vision acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the use of a correcting lens or with a visual field limitation of 20 degrees or less in the better eye.

How It’s Funded

SSI receives its funding from the General Fund of the U.S. Treasury. This is unlike Social Security benefits, which are funded from the Social Security Trust Funds.

In 2022, President Biden’s budget request for SSI was nearly $66 billion. The estimated payments to SSI recipients was $62.7 billion total. The payments make up approximately 93% of the Federal SSI spending.

Never Miss Important News or Updates
Get money-saving tips, hard-to-find info and tactics for a successful retirement in our free weekly newsletter.

How Do You Apply For SSI?

There are many ways to apply for SSI. You can choose to do so online or in person. If you want to complete 100% of your application online, go to the SSI application page on the Social Security Administration’s website.

There is also a hybrid SSI application option that does not require documentation. You will fill out a short SSI application online, then you will be contacted by a Social Security representative to set up an in-person appointment.

If you want to apply for SSI in person, you can dial 1-800-772-1213 to set up an appointment. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, dial 1-800-325-0778 instead. There are roughly 1,200 Social Security Administration field offices nationwide with representatives available to help you apply.

Evidence Needed

You will need to provide proof of your finances, disability or impairment in order to qualify for SSI. Make sure you have ample documentation before applying for SSI or arriving to your appointment to avoid delays.

Evidence Needed When Applying for SSI
  • Social Security statement
  • W2s from the last two years
  • Bank routing and account information
  • Relevant medical records, doctor names and prescriptions
  • Job history information that you had within the 15 years before you became unable to work
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship
Source: Social Security Administration

If you think you need assistance getting the right documentation together, or help with the overall application, you can hire a social security disability lawyer to help streamline the process.

How Much Are SSI Checks In 2022?

In 2022, the monthly maximum check amount is $831 for an individual and $1,261 for a married couple. In January of 2022, the average monthly SSI benefit check amount was $625. Where you live, and your disability or injury type, can change your benefit amount.

These payments are typically sent out on the first day of each month. If this day falls on a weekend or holiday, benefits are sent on the last working day of that week.

SSI check amounts change each year, increasing with the nationwide cost of living. In 2022, SSI payments increased by 5.9%.

Special Considerations

Some states add additional funds to SSI checks. Note that Arizona, Mississippi, North Dakota, West Virginia, and the Northern Mariana Islands do not offer a state supplement.

If your state does offer additional funds to your SSI check, the amount of supplement varies state by state. For example, if you live in California, your maximum SSI check with a state benefit for a blind individual is $1,110.26. Certain factors will change your SSI and state benefit amount, such as whether you are older, disabled or blind.

2022 Examples of Maximum SSI Payment for Individual with State Supplement
StateOlder PersonBlindDisabled
California$1,040.21$1,110.26$1,040.21
Washington D.C. $841$841$841
Nevada$877.25$950.30$841
Iowa$841$863$841
Source: Social Security Administration
Last Modified: August 2, 2022

7 Cited Research Articles

  1. Social Security Administration. (2022, July). Monthly Statistical Snapshot, June 2022 Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/quickfacts/stat_snapshot/#table1
  2. Social Security Administration. (2022). A Guide to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for Groups and Organizations. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-11015.pdf
  3. Social Security Administration. (2022). SSI Federal Payment Amounts For 2022. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/SSI.html
  4. Social Security Administration. (2022). Annual Report of the Supplemental Security Income Program. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/oact/ssir/SSI22/ssi2022.pdf
  5. Social Security Administration. (2021, December). Checklist for Online Adult Disability Application. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/hlp/radr/10/ovw001-checklist.pdf
  6. Social Security Administration. (n.d.). Disability Benefits. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/disability/
  7. Social Security Administration. (n.d.). Supplemental Security Income Program. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/budget/FY22Files/2022SSI.pdf