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What Is This Thing Called SSI? A New TV Drama Series?

Okay, we know that the character-driven TV drama CSI is recognized as one of the most popular series on the small screen right now. SSI may be less riveting but it’s still something that’s worth knowing about.

As we pointed out in last week’s blog post, SSI is very different from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is a disability benefit. Supplemental Security Income—or, SSI—is a federal income supplement program that pays benefits based on financial need. It is funded by general tax revenues and not Social Security taxes.

SSI is designed to help individuals who are aged, blind, and disabled people who have little or no income. It provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.

To qualify, you must be age 65 or older, or under age 65 and disabled.

Aside from the age and disability qualifications, you must demonstrate financial need to qualify for SSI. As of December 2013, the benefit rate for an individual is $721 per month and $1,082 per month per couple.

Can you receive both SSI and SSDI?

If you receive an SSDI benefit that is lower than the current federal benefit rate ($721 per month) and are eligible to receive SSI, the income benefit would be awarded to supplement your SSDI benefit.

For example, if your SSDI benefit is $500 per month, SSI would be awarded in the amount of $241. (The amount is actually $20 more because Social Security does not consider the first $20 of SSDI as an offset to the SSI payment.)