Social Security & Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Authored By: Social Security Administration
Social Security is a social insurance program funded through employee and employer payroll taxes. Eligibility for all benefits, whether paid directly to a retired or disabled worker or to the dependents or survivors of a worker, turns on whether the worker earned the required number of quarters in covered employment to establish eligibility.
In addition to meeting the coverage requirements, claimants must also establish their eligibility based upon a particular status, i.e., over 62; widow; child of a deceased worker. While there are limitations upon the amount which a person can earn without affecting his/her benefit level once s/he has retired, Social Security is not a means-tested program. The amount of a person's income and resources are generally irrelevant to the person's eligibility for benefits.
The federal Social Security benefit will increase by 1.4% for benefits paid in 2003. The average retirement benefit increased to $895 (2003).
The annual exempt amount of earnings for Social Security retirees is as follows:
- $960 per month for retirees under age 65 (2003)
- Unlimited for retirees above age 65
After the retiree has earned the exempt amount, for additional earnings:
- $1 of benefits is lost for $2 of earnings if the retired worker is under 65.
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit for 2003 is as follows:
- Individual $552/month
- Couple $829/month
Supplemental Security Income is a federal welfare benefit available for individuals who are aged 65 or above or who are blind or disabled, whose income and resources do not exceed the benefit amount and whose non-exempt resources do not exceed $2000 for an individual or $3000 for a couple. Exempt resources which are generally the same as those described in the Medicaid update, do not disqualify an individual or couple for SSI.
In Mississippi, an individual who is eligible for SSI is also eligible for Medicaid.
Many states provide individuals receiving SSI with a monthly state cash assistance payment to specific groups of SSI recipients. Mississippi does not have a state cash assistance program.
To meet the non-financial guidelines for SSI, an individual must prove that he is (1) age 65 or older; (2) blind, as defined by the Social Security disability standards; or disabled, according to the Social Security disability standards. Most non-citizens are barred from receiving SSI. Residency in the U.S. is required.
SSI may be received as a person's only income, or may be received in addition to another source of income, such as Social Security. SSI is a guaranteed minimum income amount for the aged, the blind and the disabled. SSI benefits are not paid to dependents or survivors, as compared to the Social Security programs.
Social Security and SSI are different benefits, but both programs are administered by the Social Security Administration.
SSI is a welfare program. Social Security is an insurance program funded by contributions of employers and employees to payroll taxes. Eligibility for Social Security disability, retirement benefits, and benefits for dependents and survivors of workers depends upon whether a worker met the insured status test. Social Security retirees are eligible for Medicare at age 65. Individuals receiving Social Security Disability become eligible for Medicare after receiving disability benefits for 24 months.
Applications for Social Security and SSI must be in writing and must be made to the local District Social Security Office.