Monthly Payment Amounts for Supplemental Security Income SSI

Written By: William Rivers
Reviewed By: William Rivers
Published: May 11, 2023
Last updated: December 23, 2023

In this article, readers will gain a comprehensive understanding of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), including its definition, eligibility criteria, and how it differs from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The article details how monthly payment amounts are determined, discusses the impact of different living arrangements on SSI payments, and examines special circumstances that may affect payments. Lastly, it outlines the application process, how to appeal decisions, and the importance of safeguarding benefits through continued eligibility and reporting changes.

Understanding SSI - Supplemental Security Income

Definition of SSI

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal assistance program designed to provide financial support to individuals who have limited income and resources and are either aged (65 or older), blind, or disabled. It aims at ensuring that eligible individuals receive a minimum level of income to meet their basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. SSI is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), however, SSI is funded through general tax revenue rather than Social Security taxes.

SSI benefits are meant to supplement other sources of income, such as Social Security benefits, pensions, or other types of support, so that recipients can maintain a certain standard of living. The program is means-tested, meaning that eligibility is determined based on an individual's financial situation, including income and assets.

Eligibility criteria for SSI

There are specific eligibility requirements that must be met to qualify for SSI assistance. Some of these criteria include:

Disability or Blindness

In order to qualify for SSI based on disability or blindness, an individual must meet the SSA's strict definition of disability or blindness:

  • Disability: An individual must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that results in the inability to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) and is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.
  • Blindness: An individual must have a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the use of a correcting lens, or have a visual field limitation such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees.

Income and Resource Limits

To be eligible for SSI, an individual's income and resources must be below certain limits:

  • Income: SSI takes into account earned income (wages, self-employment income), unearned income (Social Security benefits, pensions, unemployment benefits, interest income), deemed income (a portion of a spouse's income), and in-kind income (food or shelter provided by someone else). The amount of allowable income varies based on individual circumstances, and certain types of income may be excluded from consideration.
  • Resources: A resource is anything you own that can be converted to cash, such as cash, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, vehicles, and real property. To qualify for SSI, an individual's countable resources must not exceed $2,000 ($3,000 for a couple). Some resources, such as a primary home, one vehicle, and certain types of personal property, are excluded from consideration.

U.S. Citizenship or Qualified Alien Status

Eligibility for SSI is limited to U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and certain categories of qualified aliens (certain permanent residents, individuals granted asylum, refugees, victims of human trafficking, and others). Additionally, some qualified aliens may only be eligible for SSI benefits for a limited time, depending on their immigration status.

SSI vs. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

SSI and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are both programs administered by the Social Security Administration aimed at providing financial assistance to disabled individuals. However, there are some key differences between the two programs:

  • SSI is a means-tested program, meaning that eligibility is based on financial need. SSDI, on the other hand, is an insurance program that workers pay into through Social Security taxes. To qualify for SSDI, an individual must have paid Social Security taxes and earned a certain number of work credits.
  • Benefit amounts for SSI are determined based on an individual's income and resources, and are designed to maintain a minimum standard of living. SSDI benefits, however, are based on an individual's earnings history and may be higher than SSI payments.
  • While both programs require that applicants meet the SSA's definition of disability, SSDI applicants must also meet the insured status requirement based on their work history.

In some cases, individuals may qualify for both SSI and SSDI benefits, depending on their financial situation and work history. Overall, both programs serve a vital role in supporting disabled individuals and providing them with the financial resources necessary to maintain their well-being.

How Monthly Payment Amounts are Determined

Federal Benefit Rate (FBR)

The Federal Benefit Rate (FBR) is the maximum monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) for eligible individuals and couples. This amount is determined annually and serves as a baseline for determining how much financial assistance an individual may receive each month. It is important to note that the FBR does not account for any supplementary state funding or other sources of income an SSI recipient may have.

When determining the FBR, factors such as inflation and changes to the cost of living are taken into account. These adjustments ensure that SSI payments continue to provide an adequate level of assistance for eligible individuals. The FBR is regularly reviewed and may be adjusted by Congress to keep up with changes in the cost of living.

Annual adjustments to FBR

The FBR is adjusted annually based on the increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). The index measures the changes in pricing for a fixed market basket of goods and services over time. When there is an increase in the index, the FBR will also increase to maintain its purchasing power. Adjusting the FBR in this manner is known as the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), with the objective of maintaining beneficiaries' standard of living despite inflation and other economic fluctuations.

State Supplementary Payments (SSP)

In addition to the federal SSI payment, some states provide State Supplementary Payments (SSP). These payments are meant to supplement the federal assistance an individual receives within a state and are typically administered by the state's human services or social welfare agency. The purpose of supplementary state funding is to provide additional financial support to individuals in need, particularly those who may have higher living expenses or other unique circumstances that warrant extra assistance.

Optional state-administered supplementary programs

States have the option to administer their own supplementary programs, which may or may not be earmarked for specific needs, such as housing or food. Some states offer a flat rate of assistance to all SSI recipients, while others provide varying levels of support depending on the individual's financial situation, living arrangements, or other factors. It is crucial for SSI recipients to understand their state's unique supplementary programs and eligibility criteria to maximize their benefit amounts.

Calculating Individual Payment Amounts

SSI monthly payment amounts are determined by considering various factors such as the FBR, SSP, other income, in-kind support and maintenance, and other deductions or exclusions. Each of these factors plays a role in determining the monthly payment amount an SSI recipient will receive.

In-kind support and maintenance

In-kind support and maintenance (ISM) refers to any food or shelter assistance provided to an SSI recipient by a third party. This assistance may come in the form of free or reduced-cost housing, food, or utilities. The value of ISM is considered when calculating an individual's monthly SSI payment amount, as it can result in a reduction of their benefits. The SSA has specific rules regarding how ISM is calculated and how it impacts one's benefits, so it is essential for recipients to understand these regulations.

Other income and deductions consideration

The SSA takes into account any additional sources of income when determining an SSI recipient's monthly payment amount. This includes earned and unearned income, such as wages, pensions, alimony, and unemployment benefits. Some types of income may be partially or fully excluded when calculating one's benefits, while others may result in a reduction in the monthly payment amount. Deductions and exclusions vary, so it is essential for recipients to consult the SSA's rules and regulations for a comprehensive understanding.

Cost-of-living adjustments (COLA)

As previously mentioned, cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) can have an impact on an SSI recipient's monthly payment amount. When the FBR is adjusted annually, the individual's monthly payment amount will also be adjusted accordingly. This ensures that SSI recipients maintain a consistent standard of living despite changes in overall economic conditions, such as inflation.

In summary, monthly SSI payment amounts are determined by taking into account federal and state benefits rates, other income sources, in-kind support and maintenance, and cost-of-living adjustments. Understanding how each of these factors contributes to one's SSI payment is crucial for recipients to maximize their benefits and maintain a stable financial situation.

Living Arrangements and Their Impact on SSI Payments

Living arrangements play a critical role in determining the eligibility and amount of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments that an individual may receive. The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers various living situations, such as living independently, living in the household of another, living in a medical facility, living in group homes or assisted living facilities, and homelessness. Each of these living arrangements can impact the amount of SSI payments in different ways.

Living independently

When an individual lives independently in their own place, such as a house or apartment, the SSI payment is calculated based on the federal benefit rate. This also applies to individuals who are renting a room in a private residence or living in a single-room occupancy facility. In this living arrangement, the person is responsible for their own food, shelter, and daily living expenses.

If an individual is living independently but receiving in-kind support and maintenance from others such as meals, rent-free housing or utility payments, it may affect their SSI payment amount. The value of this assistance, above a specific threshold, may be taken into account when calculating the monthly SSI payment.

Living in the household of another

Living in the household of another person, i.e., sharing living quarters, has a significant impact on SSI payments. In this situation, the individual is residing in someone else's home and may be receiving food and shelter from the householder.

If this is the case, the Social Security Administration may reduce the individual's SSI payment by up to one-third. This reduction is due to the assumption that the householder is providing in-kind support for the individual. However, if the individual can prove they are contributing their fair share toward household expenses, this reduction may not apply.

Living in a medical facility

If an individual is residing in a medical facility, such as a hospital or nursing home, it could affect their SSI benefits. When the facility covers the cost of care, including food and shelter, the person’s SSI payments may be reduced or suspended. However, if the person is still responsible for a portion of their care and living expenses in the facility, their SSI payment amount may vary.

It's also essential to be aware that living in a medical facility for an extended period may consequently lead to the loss of SSI benefits. Long-term residency in a medical facility can lead to the individual being classified as "institutionalized," which can result in ineligibility for SSI payments.

Living in a group home or assisted living facility

Group homes and assisted living arrangements are residential settings that provide support and services to elderly or disabled individuals. They typically include assistance with daily living activities, meals, and health care services.

SSI payments in these living scenarios are influenced by the degree of assistance provided and whether the facility is privately or government-funded. The SSI amount can vary depending on the individual's financial contribution towards their living expenses within the group home or assisted living facility.


In the case of homelessness, individuals will not lose their right to receive SSI benefits. However, it can be challenging to manage the application process and maintain the records needed for continuing eligibility. Homeless individuals may be eligible for the maximum SSI amount, as they typically do not receive substantial in-kind support related to housing or food.

It's crucial for homeless individuals to maintain contact with their local Social Security office and provide them with a permanent mailing address, such as a family member's address, a post office box, or a homeless shelter. Through this, they can receive essential correspondence and updates about their SSI benefits.

In summary, living arrangements have a significant impact on the eligibility and amount of SSI payments. Understanding these implications can help individuals better navigate their eligibility, application process, and ensure they receive the appropriate level of support to meet their needs.

Special Circumstances Affecting SSI Payments

Working while receiving SSI

Working while receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments can present challenges in maintaining benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) takes into account an individual's earned and unearned income when determining eligibility and the amount of SSI payments. However, there are provisions in place to encourage beneficiaries to work and become self-sufficient.

Income exclusions and earned income deductions can have a significant impact on SSI payments. The SSA excludes the first $65 of earned income and $20 of any income (earned or unearned) from the total monthly income calculation. After these exclusions, SSA deducts 50% of the remaining earned income, to calculate the countable income. For instance, if an SSI recipient earns $500, $85 ($65 + $20) will be excluded, and SSA will consider $415. Only half of this will be counted, reducing the SSI payment by $207.50. Thus, pursuing income does not lead to the total loss of SSI benefits.

Effect on Medicaid eligibility

Medicaid is often a vital component in the lives of SSI recipients, providing health coverage to low-income individuals. Working may affect Medicaid eligibility. The SSA has implemented the Section 1619(b) of the Social Security Act, which enables individuals to keep their Medicaid benefits even if their earnings are too high for SSI payments. Some states have adopted Medicaid Buy-In programs for working individuals with disabilities.

Children with disabilities

SSI benefits for disabled children depend on the family's financial resources and their own. The Social Security Administration applies a deeming process to calculate the child's benefits.

Deeming parental income and resources

Deeming refers to the process of allocating a portion of a parent's countable income and resources to the eligible child. While not all parental income is treated as countable, some may affect the child's SSI benefits. Deeming applies until the child reaches 18 years or until he or she starts living separately from the parents. In the case of divorced parents, deeming will only apply to the parent the child lives with or the one providing more than half of the child's support.

Marriage and SSI eligibility

Marriage can impact an SSI recipient's eligibility and benefits. When two SSI recipients marry, their eligibility continues, but their benefits could change.

Effect on payment amounts

When two SSI recipients marry, the couple's SSI payment is less than the total of their individual benefits before marriage. In 2021, the federal maximum monthly amount for an eligible couple is $1,191, while the beneficiaries' individual payments would have totaled $1,564 ($782 each). The reduction in benefits is due to the couple's shared resources and expenses, such as housing and food.

Eligible couples and deeming spousal income

If an SSI recipient marries an ineligible individual, the SSA will deem the spouse's income and resources when calculating benefits. Deeming spousal income takes into account the income exclusions, as in the working while receiving SSI example, and may result in a reduction, suspension or termination of the existing recipient's benefits if the spouse's income surpasses the eligibility threshold.

How to Apply for SSI and Safeguarding Benefits

Application Process

The application process for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) has several steps, including gathering necessary documentation, completing an application, attending interviews and medical evaluations, and potentially appealing a decision if necessary.

To begin the process, gather all the necessary documentation mentioned below, and then visit the official Social Security Administration (SSA) website (www.ssa.gov) or your local Social Security office to start the application process.

Documentation requirements

Before applying for SSI, you must gather the necessary documents to support your claim. These documents may include:

  1. Proof of age: A birth certificate or other official document that verifies your age.
  2. Citizenship or eligible noncitizen status: A Social Security card, U.S. passport, Certificate of Naturalization, or other appropriate documents.
  3. Income: Wage stubs, tax records, or other documents that show your income for the past year.
  4. Resources: Bank statements, investment records, and property deeds that prove your financial assets are within the allowable limits.
  5. Living arrangements: Lease agreements, mortgage documents, or other proof of your living situation.
  6. Medical evidence: Medical records, doctor's statements, and other documents that support your disability or impairment claim.

It may also be helpful to provide any records of your work history, including W-2 forms or self-employment records.

Interviews and medical evaluations

After submitting your SSI application, you may be asked to attend one or more interviews with an SSA representative to discuss your situation and provide additional information. During these interviews, the SSA representative may also ask you to sign forms consenting to a medical evaluation by a designated doctor or a consultative examination by a specialist.

These medical evaluations are crucial to determining if your condition qualifies you for SSI benefits. It is important to attend all scheduled appointments and cooperate fully with the medical professionals conducting the evaluations. Missing appointments or failing to provide necessary information can result in your application being denied.

Appealing a decision

If your initial SSI application is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. The appeal process consists of four levels, which must be completed in the following order: Reconsideration, hearing by an administrative law judge, review by the Appeals Council, and federal court review.

At each level of appeal, you have 60 days to submit your request for review after receiving notice of the initial decision. It is essential to provide all necessary documentation and meet deadlines throughout the appeals process to increase your chances of successfully obtaining SSI benefits.

Continuing eligibility and reporting changes

Once you are receiving SSI benefits, the SSA will periodically review your situation to ensure you continue to meet the eligibility requirements. If your circumstances change, such as an increase in income or an improvement in your medical condition, you must report these changes to the SSA as soon as possible.

Periodic reviews

The SSA will conduct periodic reviews known as Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs) to determine if you still meet the eligibility requirements for SSI benefits. The frequency of these reviews depends on the severity of your disability and the likelihood of improvement, but they generally occur every three to five years.

During a CDR, you may be asked to provide updated medical records and employment information, as well as additional documentation regarding your disability status.

Events that may affect payment amounts

Several events or changes in your life may affect your eligibility for SSI benefits or the amount you receive. These include:

  1. Increase or decrease in income: If your income or resources change, it may impact the amount of SSI benefits you receive.
  2. Marriage or divorce: Changes in marital status can significantly affect your SSI benefit amount, as the SSA considers both your and your spouse's income and resources when determining eligibility and payment amounts.
  3. Changes in living arrangements: Moving to a new location, changes in your household, or entering or leaving an institution can affect your SSI payments.
  4. Improvement in medical condition: If your health improves to the point where you no longer meet the disability criteria, your SSI benefits may be discontinued.

Always report changes in your circumstances to the SSA as promptly as possible to prevent overpayments or missed benefits.

What factors determine the SSI monthly payment amount?

Several factors influence the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) monthly payment, such as an individual's income, living arrangements, and marital status. The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers these factors when calculating the payment amount to ensure eligible individuals receive appropriate financial support.

How is the SSI monthly payment amount updated every year?

The SSI monthly payment amount is updated annually based on the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). The COLA is determined by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), reflecting inflation and ensuring that recipients' purchasing power remains consistent.

Are there any limits to the SSI monthly payment amount for individuals and couples?

Yes, as of 2022, the maximum SSI payment per month for the eligible individual is $841, whereas for eligible couples, the monthly limit is $1,261. However, this amount may vary depending on the specific circumstances, such as countable income, state supplements, or in-kind support.

Does a person's monthly Social Security benefit affect their SSI payment amount?

Yes, the Social Security benefits received by an individual are considered countable income and will affect the SSI payment amount. The countable income is deducted from the maximum SSI federal payment, resulting in a decreased monthly SSI payment.

Can SSI recipients receive additional financial assistance from the state?

Yes, some states provide additional financial assistance to SSI recipients in the form of State Supplementary Payments. These payments vary depending on the state and help increase the monthly payment amounts for eligible individuals.

How is an SSI payment affected by living arrangements?

The SSI payment amount may change depending on an individual's living situation, such as living with others, in a medical facility, or receiving shelter and food from another person. The value of this support may reduce the monthly SSI payment due to the impact of in-kind support and maintenance calculations.

Was this article helpful?
William Rivers is an editor with a master’s degree in Human Services Counseling at Maine State University. He has more than 20 years of experience working in the senior healthcare industry.
After years of living under the care of your parents and other family members, the time will arrive for you to reciprocate. At Senior Strong, you can show your loved ones just how much you value them.
642 W 28th St, Los Angeles, CA 90007
(213) 877-8342
Senior Strong © Copyright 2024, All Rights Reserved