Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Provides cash assistance to persons age 65 and older and adults and children with serious physical or mental impairment(s). Maximum monthly payments in 2017 are $774.92 for an individual and $1,182.38 for a couple (if both spouses are eligible). SSI benefits are for individuals who have not worked and paid into the Social Security System or as a supplement to Social Security Disability or Retirement Benefits for workers who have limited benefits. Individuals receiving SSI also receive Medical Assistance and are eligible for SNAP benefits.

Who Qualifies?

  • Individuals unable to work due to serious physical and/or mental impairment(s) that have lasted or will last for at least one year or result in death and prevents any substantial gainful activity.
  • Individuals age 65 or older.
  • Citizens can qualify on basis of age or disability. Lawful permanents resident who entered the U.S. before 8/22/96 can qualify based on disability (but not based solely on age unless s/he has worked for 40 quarters). Lawful permanent residents who entered the US on/after 8/22/96 must be in status for five years and be credited with 40 quarters of work before being eligible for SSI based on either age or disability. Refugees, persons granted asylum and other limited categories are eligible for SSI based on either disability or age for the first 7 years in status (regardless of date of entry). (Some immigrants may be eligible for 9 years).

Income and Resource Limits

Countable income must be less than SSI payment. (A $20 deduction is applied to unearned income and certain deductions are applied to earned income.) The resource limit is $2,000 ($3,000 for a couple). The home in which the person lives and a car used to obtain medical care do not count.

SSI and Medical Assistance

Individuals found eligible for SSI are eligible for Medical Assistance coverage. An applicant for SSI can apply separately for Medical Assistance at the DHS office while the SSI application is pending. The disability standard for SSI and Medical Assistance are the same, but it can take many months for a decision on the SSI application to be made, while DHS must make a decision on Medical Assistance eligibility within 60 days for individuals requesting coverage based on disability. Apply at local DHS Office for medical assistance benefits.

How to Apply

Apply to your local Social Security Office, 1-800-772-1213.

The application process includes a determination of financial eligibility (income and resources below the limits) and a determination of whether the applicant meets the age or disability standard.

Applicants will be notified of a decision in writing. If the application is denied, the applicant can pursue a several-step appeal process by requesting appeals in writing. The requests must be filed within 60 days of the written decision(s). Recipients are notified in advance if SSI benefits will be terminated due to change in disability status or other reason. RI Legal Services may be able to represent individuals denied SSI benefits or who are notified of termination.

For more information, contact the Social Security Administration or the RI Office of Rehabilitative Services.