People are able to receive Social Security retirement benefits and Supplementary Security Income at the same time as long as their overall income and resources are limited enough to qualify for the SSI program. Social Security retirement benefits and SSI have different but not exclusive criteria for eligibility.
Eligibility for Social Security retirement benefits is based on the number of work credits an individual earns. To receive benefits, a person needs to at least 40 work credits based on 10 years of work as of 2015 or be a spouse of someone eligible based on work credits. The amount of retirement benefits people receive is based on their earnings records and whether they begin receiving retirement benefits when they first become eligible at 62, when they reach full retirement age or when they maximize retirement benefits at age 70.
Supplementary Security Income is a need-based program for the elderly, blind and disabled. The Social Security Administration considers both earned and unearned income when assessing applicants. Social Security retirement benefits are considered a source of unearned income along with pensions, unemployment benefits, interest income, and cash gifts from friends and relatives. Earned income includes wages and self-employment earnings. Countable resources include cash, bank accounts, land, vehicles and other personal property.