Supplemental Security Income calls for an austerity budget or lean living. If you are disabled, blind or over age 65, SSI is money given to you from the general revenue funds, unlike Social Security benefits taken from special taxes. SSI does not require a work history like Social Security. SSI does not require repayment unless you receive overpayment. Once you receive SSI, you may qualify for other sources of benefits to help meet necessities of life. Save your cash from SSI to pay the rent, and utilize the resources available for medical care, prescription drugs and food.
Medicare and Medicaid
You may receive paid medical expenses. In some states, your approval for SSI is sufficient for qualification for Medicaid. In other states, you must apply for Medicaid separately. This provides the SSI recipient with free medical care and sometimes medications. Children in the family may also qualify for Medicaid. Some SSI recipients also get Social Security benefits, and by receiving both, can qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare. You can get help with payment of part of your Medicare through several programs such as Qualified Medicare Beneficiary, Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary and the Qualifying Individual program. If you are disabled, you may receive help from the Qualified Disabled Working Individual program. These programs pay all or part of your cost of Medicare, saving your cash for other needs.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
The SNAP or food stamp program in your state probably has a provision for SSI recipients. All states except California allow SSI recipients to receive food stamps as well. California supplements the monthly SSI check in lieu of food stamps. SNAP benefits are cash on an electronic card and must be used for food. In addition to SNAP, food pantries and food banks are in all areas of the United States, providing food to individuals and families in need.
Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
If other members in your household do not qualify for SSI, they may qualify for TANF benefits. SSI covers only the disabled, blind or aged and pays those recipients individually. Other family members may qualify for TANF, which is a state-operated program for needy families, primarily families with children. TANF is a cash payment on an electronic card.
State commodities programs provide emergency food relief to individuals or families in need. This program is a joint effort of federal and state governments, and the states provide commodities to groups that assist the needy. You must apply for the program and meet the eligibility requirements. Contact the state health and human services office in your area to learn more.
Five states do not provide any additional funds to the monthly benefits for Supplemental Security Income recipients. These are Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and West Virginia. Other states supplement the $674 monthly benefit provided by the federal government in 2011. If you do not currently live in a state that adds to the SSI benefits, you might consider living in a state with a supplement. This cash payment is added to the SSI payment or distributed separately by the state.
- Social Security Online: Understanding Supplemental Security Income: SSI Benefits; 2010
- Social Security Online: Understanding Supplemental Security Income: SSI and Eligibility for Other Government and State Programs; 2010
- Federal Grants Wire: Emergency Food Assistance Program (Food Commodities) (10.569)
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; December 2010