Supplemental Security Income – SSI

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is one of two separate income maintenance programs run by the federal government and administered by the Social Security Administration. The other is Social Security Disability (SSDI). SSI is a federal income program, funded by general tax money, not Social Security taxes paid. SSI benefits do not require and are not based on the recipient’s prior work or a family member’s prior work. In other words, no current or prior employment is required to qualify for SSI benefits.

SSI provides monthly payments to persons who are blind, 65 or older, or disabled, who have little or no income and limited resources. Adults who became disabled in childhood may also be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Children under age 18 may qualify, as well, if they meet the Social Security definition of disability for children, and if their income and resources fall within the eligibility limits.

So, you do not meet the employment history eligibility requirements for SSDI, you may still qualify for SSI. Supplemental Security Income is a welfare program for disabled people who meet the Social Security medical and disability rules and whose income and assets are below the eligibility levels.

To be eligible for SSI, you must:

a. be age 65 or older, blind, or have one or more physical or mental impairments that prevent you from engaging in any substantial, gainful employment for at least one year.

b. be a citizen or legal resident of the United States;’

c. have very limited income and resources.

SSI allows you to have certain assets and still be eligible for SSI benefits, such as:

– the home you live in and the land it is on

– household goods and personal effects;

– your wedding and engagement rings;

– burial spaces for you or your immediate family;

– burial funds for you and your spouse, each valued at $1,500 or less (See the SSI Spotlight on Burial Funds);

– life insurance policies with a combined face value of $1,500 or less;

– one vehicle, regardless of value, if it is used for transportation for you or a member of your household;

– retroactive SSI or Social Security benefits for up to nine months after you receive them (including payments received in installments);

– grants, scholarships, fellowships, or gifts set aside to pay educational expenses for 9 months after receipt.

– some other categories of assets that require a good deal of explanation.

Individuals and couples may be eligible for both SSI and SSDI if the amount of the SSDI benefit is less than the amount of the SSI benefit to which they are entitled.

The laws regarding the above eligibility requirements are extremely complicated and subject to interpretation. The advice of an experienced supplemental security income lawyer is highly recommended to explain the SSI rules and procedures.

For example, concerning your resources, how you describe your living arrangements may greatly impact your benefits. For example, a loan received for payment of food, clothing or shelter will not be counted against you as income, while a gift received and used for these purposes will. Therefore, if you are living with another person to whom you are not married, and they are “carrying” you financially and expecting reimbursement, it is in your best interest to be able to document that the food, rent, and utilities that they are paying on your behalf is a loan which is expected to be repaid, rather than a gift.

If you are turned down for SSI benefits and feel that your situation deserves benefits, attempt to obtain a detailed explanation of the reason for denial.


Contact our office to discuss your case, without cost or obligation at: 303-797-3311

Serving the entire south Denver, Colorado (CO) Metropolitan area, including Littleton, Englewood, Centennial & Aurora in Arapahoe County, Highlands Ranch and Castle Rock in Douglas County, Denver and south Jefferson County, Colorado. Evening and weekend appointments are available.