Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Questions

I have been holding several questions about the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. They are today’s topic. 

Q: Is Supplemental Security Income (SSI) a new program?

A: Not at all. The SSI program was signed into law by President Nixon as part of the Social Security Amendments of 1972. SSI benefits were first paid in 1974. 

The SSI program makes payments to people with low income and limited resources who are age 65 or older or are blind or have a disability, including children. Although the Social Security Administration manages the Supplemental Security Income program, SSI is not paid for by Social Security taxes. SSI is paid for by U.S. Treasury general funds. The two programs are very different.

Q: If the parent of a minor gets Supplemental Security Income disability, will his or her minor child also get SSI?

A: The SSI program does not provide for family benefits. Benefits are not payable to a minor child, or any other family member, just because a parent or spouse is eligible for SSI. It is possible for more than one member of a family to receive SSI if each individually meets the requirements. For example, if both members of a couple are over age 65, and each meet the income and resource rules, then both can receive SSI.

Q: Do children get the same SSI payment amount as an adult?

A: There is one standard, monthly, federal SSI payment amount, whether the eligible person is a child or adult, aged or disabled. Actual monthly amounts received by an individual depend on several factors including their own other income, family income, and living arrangements. Individual SSI amounts can frequently change based on these factors.

Q: Is Supplemental Security Income easier to get for a child compared to an adult?

A: These are two different decisions. An adult could be eligible to receive SSI based on age, blindness or disability. A child could be eligible based on either blindness or disability. For either, all income and resource levels must be met prior to any medical decision being made. For example, family income can make a disabled child ineligible. To be medically disabled for SSI, a child under age 18 must, in part, have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or impairments, which result in marked and severe functional limitations. When a child turns age 18, he or she must meet the definition of disability for an adult. The adult definition of disability is the same for Supplemental Security Income and Social Security. 

Q: How much is the Supplemental Security Income benefit amount?

A: In 2012, the standard, monthly federal amount is $698 for an individual and $1,048 for an eligible couple. Based on this weeks 1.7 percent cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) announcement, in 2013 this will increase to a monthly maximum of $710 for an individual and $1,066 for an eligible couple. Other income, including from Social Security benefits, reduces this amount. Different types of income reduce the standard amount in different ways. Some states add state funds to the federal amount. 

Basic information about Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is at  and in publication 05-11000.To learn more or apply, contact Social Security. Call the Social Security national toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or contact your local office

Applications for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cannot be fully completed online because the person must talk to a Social Security representative. However, medical reports for SSI applications involving blindness or disability, for either an adult or child, can be completed online.  See