Anniversary Of SSI Legislation

Forty years ago today, on October 30, 1972, President Nixon signed the Social Security Amendments of 1972 (Public Law 92-603). Among other provisions, the law established a new Federal income program for the needy aged, blind and disabled. This was the Supplemental Security Income program. 

Prior to the enactment of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), many State and local programs for needy aged, blind or disabled people received substantial Federal funding. These programs had become very complex and inconsistent, with as many as 1,350 administrative agencies involved and payments varying more than 300% from State to State. With enactment, SSI provided a uniform federal income floor, and optional state programs would supplement that floor.  

The Social Security Administration was chosen to administer the new Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. The first SSI payments went out in January 1974. I was already a SSA representative then and clearly remember the strenuous efforts involved during the start up. Roughly, three million people were converted from different State programs to SSI.  

Nationally, as of December 2011, approximately 8,112,773 people received a monthly SSI payment, for all categories of eligibility. Of this number, 2,716,259 people were also eligible for a Social Security retirement, survivors or disability benefit. SSI recipient numbers by individual state and county for this period are at  Here are links for North Dakota, Minnesota, and South Dakota information.

As mentioned in previous posts, Supplemental Security Income is very different from Social Security. Two primary differences are that SSI eligibility is based on need, not work as is Social Security, and that SSI is funded by general revenues, not Social Security payroll taxes.  

Supplemental Security Income 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. Living arrangements are also a factor in determining the benefit amount. 

In 2012, the standard, monthly federal amount is $698 for an individual and $1,048 for an eligible couple. 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 these amounts. Different types of income reduce the standard amount in different ways. Some states add state funds to the federal amount. 

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) information is at  and in the publication “Supplemental Security Income (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

 This 1991 poster was used to publicize SSI: