Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

The Basics

People who are disabled, blind, or elderly may not be able to work or afford to live on their own. If you can’t work, have no other sources of income, and have limited resources, you may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

The federal government created the SSI program to help people in this situation. Those who qualify for SSI benefits get monthly cash payments to pay for those basic needs. The SSI program is run by the Social Security Administration. In California, people who get SSI also get a smaller benefit from the State Supplemental Program (SSP) included with their monthly SSI benefit. For most people, the maximum possible SSI benefit (including the SSP) is $1,182.94 for an individual and $2,022.83 for a couple. If you're blind, the maximum is $1,267.32 for an individual and $2,248.35 for a couple

In California, people who qualify for SSI also get Medi-Cal benefits automatically.

Don't get SSI mixed up with other programs!

Three disability benefits have very similar names: SSI, SSDI, and SDI:

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program that gives a cash benefit to people who have disabilities and have low income and resources. You do not need to have worked in the past to get SSI. SSI is explained in this article.
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal program that gives a cash benefit to people with long-term disabilities who qualify because they used to work or have family members who worked.
  • State Disability Insurance (SDI) is a state program that gives a cash benefit for one year or less to Californians with disabilities who worked before becoming disabled.

You may be able to qualify for more than one of these programs at the same time. For example, if you become disabled, you might get SDI at first and later start getting SSDI. If you get SSDI and also have low resources, you may qualify for SSI as well. Make sure you know which benefits you get and which you might qualify for if you applied.

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