Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program designed to provide support to low-income Americans who are aged, blind, and disabled. Unlike Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is a payroll-funded program that requires you to have worked for a certain number of years, SSI is a tax-funded disability program that is needs-based.

You may be eligible for SSI benefits if you are disabled and have limited income and resources. You may also be eligible for “old age” SSI benefits if you are age 65 and older, regardless of whether you have a  disability.

What Do SSI Benefits Include?

If you are eligible for SSI benefits, you may be able to receive a monthly stipend for much-needed fundamentals, such as food, clothing, and shelter. The monthly payment you receive will be based on the current federal benefit rate, as well as any state supplement you receive. Any income you receive may be subtracted from the federal monthly payment based upon Social Security law.

In addition to a monthly stipend, you may automatically receive, or apply for, Medicaid health insurance benefits. You may also be eligible for food stamps through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP).

In many cases, you will also receive retroactive payment for past due SSI benefits, depending on the date you applied and  the determined onset date — the date that the SSA finds that your disability began.  Note that you cannot receive SSI benefits prior to the date of your SSI application, unless a prior application is reopened. Retroactive benefits may be paid out in a lump sum or in installments depending upon the amount of the past due benefits.

Consult with seasoned Chicago disability attorney Richard I. Feingold if you think you are interested in learning more about SSI benefits. Your attorney can help you determine if you qualify for SSI and understand your options, ensuring you get the most out of your SSI benefits.