Q: Are SSI amounts the same all across the country?
A: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is very different from Social Security although both programs are administered by the Social Security Administration.
Signed into law by President Nixon in 1972 (Public Law 92-603), SSI is need based and can provide payments to people with limited income or financial resources.
SSI payments can be for people age 65 or older, plus disabled or blind children and adults.
Benefits are only to an eligible person based on their own age, disability or blindness. There are no automatic benefits to other family members.
As a federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues, not Social Security taxes, the basic maximum amounts are the same all across the country.
Effective January 2014, the maximum monthly ederal benefit rates are $721 for an individual and $1,082 for an eligible couple. These are maximum amounts. Actual amounts payable can vary each month depending on other income and living arrangements of the person.
Different types of income changes SSI benefits in different ways. For example, most of a pension or Social Security benefit will directly reduce SSI amounts while a larger portion of wages is not counted to encourage work.
Individual states can choose to supplement the national amounts by adding to the Federal amount. If done, any additional amounts are based on state rules related to the person’s income, living arrangements or other factors. There is wide variance across the country for this.
Some states do not pay any supplemental amount, some do with funds included in the federal payment, and some administer their own supplement arrangement.
Basic Supplemental Security Income information is available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/ssi.htm.
Not all income or resources count towards the SSI limits.
To learn more or apply, contact Social Security by calling the national number, 1-800-772-1213 / TTY 1-800-325-0778, or your local office.
Based in Grand Forks, Howard I. Kossover is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Send general interest questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his online articles at http://socialsecurityinfo.areavoices.com.