Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal cash benefit program that is funded through general tax revenue, not social security taxes. It is a monthly stipend provided to the disabled and elderly (65 and older), which is meant to cover basic need such as food, housing, and clothing.

Eligibility for Supplemental Security Income

The Social Security Administration (SSA) awards SSI to persons who are "aged, disabled, or blind."

  • "Aged" means the person is 65 years or older. Under most federal laws, a person is considered to have reached a given age on the day before his or her birthday.
  • "Disabled" means the inability to engage in any substantial employment because of a serious physical or mental impairment, which can be expected to result in death, or has lasted for at least 12 months.
  • "Blind" means having a visual acuity of 20/200 or less.

Additionally, to be eligible, a person’s income must be below a certain limit. This limit varies based on the state in which the applicant lives, his or her living arrangement, and the type of income. U.S. citizens and persons lawfully in the United States are eligible. However, U.S. citizens who do not live in the United States may not be eligible.

Appealing SSA’s Decision

If your SSI application was denied, you have the opportunity to appeal the decision within a certain period of time. To do so, you will need to request a hearing with the SSA.

Consulting an Attorney

A social security eligibility lawyer can help an applicant determine if they are eligible, and if a valid application is denied, a lawyer can help appeal the decision. A lawyer who is experienced in social security matters can also help an applicant navigate the bureaucracy of the Supplemental Security Income system.