Understanding Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Many people know that the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides financial benefits to those who are disabled and that are retired. The problem is that there are several different programs that fall under the SSA umbrella. It's important to be informed about the various programs so that you'll know which is right for you and your needs. Social Security Income (SSI) is a program aimed at those who cannot work due to a medical or mental condition. Read on to learn more about SSI.

Know the Big Differences

It's easy to get SSI confused with Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSI covers people of all ages, from children all the way up to those who are ready to retire. SSDI only covers those old enough to work and that have worked enough to qualify for it. The main difference in the two programs, however, has to do with your income and assets.

Qualifying Medically

To get SSI benefits, you must have a medical condition that is on the list of conditions maintained by the SSA. Known as the "blue book", this list covers most debilitating conditions that can affect your ability to work. For those under the age of 18, there is no need to show an inability to work. If you have an illness on the list, you must be able to prove that you have that condition.

The only real proof the SSA accepts is proof that you have been treated by a medical or mental health professional. You will be asked to list the treatments and diagnostic tests performed on your application. In some cases, the SSA will ask you to submit your medical records or to be examined by a special SSA doctor, particularly if you have not received recent treatment or very little treatment for your condition.

Qualifying Financially

Before the SSA evaluates you using medical qualifications, they will take a close look at your income and your assets. Only those who own very little in the way of assets or that have little to no income can meet the requirements.


There is a maximum amount of income you can earn and still qualify for SSI benefits. At this time (2018), you can earn up to $1,125 for a couple and $750 for an individual. It should be noted that not all of your income is counted, so if your earnings exceed those numbers, you may still qualify after making the deductions.


The SSA looks at what you own as well. The list of counted items include homes, vehicles, bank accounts, and more. As of 2018, a couple can own $3,000 worth of property and an individual can own $2,000 worth. Just as with the calculation for income, not all of your property is counted.

If you are having trouble gaining access to your benefits, speak to a Social Security disability attorney in your area for more information.