Supplemental Security Income (SSI) martha brown attorney

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Millions of seniors and people with disabilities rely on Supplemental Security Income to make ends meet. It is also an essential safety net for older adults who do not receive sufficient Social Security income because they worked in low-wage or seasonal jobs, or stayed home from work to care for family members.

With leaders in Congress intent on cutting safety net benefits, it's critical that advocates proactively educate lawmakers, the media, and fellow advocates about the important role SSI plays in ensuring that some of the most vulnerable people in our community can meet their basic needs for shelter, food and other necessities.

Who SSI Helps:

8.3 million people rely on SSI benefits, including over 2 million seniors and almost 1.3 million children with significant disabilities.

Over half of all seniors who receive SSI benefits also receive Social Security benefits based on their work history. More than 1.1 million seniors receiving SSI received enough credits for their work to qualify them for a small amount of Social Security benefits. They may have earned low, irregular wages, or spent

How SSI Works:

In 2017, the maximum SSI federal benefit is $735 per month, or 73% of the federal poverty level. The average SSI benefit, however, is only $435 for seniors. SSI benefits are reduced when recipients have other income. Even when including income from other sources such as Social Security or a pension, a person receiving SSI is likely living below the federal poverty level.

SSI reduces homelessness

SSI benefits can be used to pay for rent, utilities, property taxes, home repair, and other basic costs that allow people to remain in their homes. SSI also provides reliable income to secure a lease. SSI benefits often mean the difference between an elderly person having a home versus surviving on the streets.

SSI benefits support local communities

People who receive SSI spend the money on their basic, immediate expenses, such as food and shelter. It also supports grandparents, who are the cornerstone of many families. Because of this, SSI benefits go directly into the local communities where SSI recipients live.

Protecting and Strengthening SSI

SSI is in danger of significant cuts

Members of Congress have circulated a number of proposals that would make significant cuts to the SSI program and hurt millions of seniors.

  • Block grants would limit the amount of money available for SSI and allow states to spend that money on other programs. If weakened by block grants, the SSI program will be hard to defend from those who would cut it entirely leaving our most vulnerable citizens without the support they need to survive.
  • We have already seen proposals that would restrict the classes eligible for SSI. Such measures take critical benefits away from seniors and people with disabilities and attempt to pit vulnerable groups against each other.

The SSI program needs to be strengthened

SSI is a highly-targeted program meant to help those most in need, but some of the rules and requirements are outdated and have not kept up with current economic realities.

Rising costs for necessities like housing and health care mean that SSI recipients are pushed further into poverty every year.

  • A low resource limit prevents SSI recipients from saving more than $2,000 (or $3,000 for a couple). This means SSI recipients cannot save for property taxes, a new roof, or a needed care repair without losing their monthly benefits, leaving people just one emergency away from homelessness and hunger.
  • SSI recipients can receive only $20 a month from non-employment sources before their SSI benefits are cut dollar-for-dollar. This provision has not been updated in over 40 years. This means recipients are left to survive below the poverty line, even when they have income from other sources like Social Security benefits.
  • SSI recipients can earn only $65 a month from work before their SSI benefits are reduced, creating a disincentive to work for those who are able, and taking money out of the pockets of extremely low-income seniors who do work.

SSI is the only resource standing between home and homelessness for many. Without it, society's most vulnerable members-those who worked all their lives at low-wage jobs and couldn't save for retirement, lifelong caregivers from low-income households who watched over their family without pay, and those who are unable to work due to disability – would be left with no resources to enable their survival.

2017 SSI Changes



SSI Federal Standard: Individual



SSI Federal Standard: Couple



SSI Resource Limits: Individual



SSI Resource Limits: Couple



SSI Student Exclusion: Monthly Limit



SSI Student Exclusion: Annual Limit



Martha C. Brown & Associates, LLC assist clients with Estate Planning, Elder Law and Probate in St. Louis City, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Jefferson County, Franklin County and the surrounding areas including Arnold, Ballwin, Barnhart, Bellefontaine Neighbors, Black Jack, Bonne Terre, Brentwood, Bridgeton, Cedar Hill, Chesterfield, Clayton, Crestwood, Creve Coeur, Crystal City, Des Peres, DeSoto, Ellisville, Farmington, Fenton, Festus, Ferguson, Florissant, Fredericktown, Frontenac, Hazelwood, Herculaneum, High Ridge, Hillsboro, House Springs, Imperial, Kirkwood, Ladue, Lake St. Louis, Manchester, Maplewood, Maryland Heights, Mehlville, Normandy, O'Fallon, Olivette, Pacific, Pevely, Richmond Heights, St. Ann, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Peters, Ste. Genevieve, Sunset Hills, Town & Country, University City, Union, Valley Park, Washington, Webster Groves, Wentzville , Wildwood.

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