What Are Social Security SSI Benefits?


Quick Answer

Social Security SSI benefits are monthly payments to adults who are disabled, blind or age 65 or older and children who are blind or disabled. To receive SSI benefits, an applicant must also have limited income and resources and be a U.S. citizen or qualified alien.

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Full Answer

To qualify for SSI benefits, an applicant must have a physical or mental impairment that is expected to last for over a year or end in death. In adults, this condition must prevent the applicant from earning an income. For children, this condition must result in severe functional limitations. Blindness is defined as a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less or a visual field angle of 20 degrees or less.

SSI benefits are managed by the Social Security Administration. The SSI application also serves as a Social Security benefit application and, in some states, an application for food assistance. In most states, those eligible for SSI are also eligible for medical assistance through the Medicaid programs. In some states, SSI beneficiaries may be qualified for supplemental payments. Although managed by the same organization, SSI and Social Security benefits differ in that SSI benefits are not based on work history and are not funded by FICA or SECA taxes.

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