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Program Description

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal income supplement program. General tax revenues fund the program, not Social Security taxes. The program has two main objectives:

  • To help those who are aged, blind, or disabled, and who have little or no income or resources.
  • To provide funds to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.

General Program Requirements

You may qualify for Supplemental Security Income if you meet the conditions below:

  • You are age 65 or older, blind, or disabled.
  • You live in one of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands. Except for a child of military parent(s) assigned to permanent duty anywhere outside the U.S. or certain students temporarily abroad.
  • You are a citizen or national of the U.S, or
  • You are a non-citizen who meets one of the requirements below:
    • You met the alien status requirements for benefits payable starting on August 22, 1996.
    • You were a lawful permanent resident of the U.S., or were permanently living in the U.S. under color of law, for benefits payable before August 22, 1996.
  • You have income and resources within stated limits; and
  • You file an application.

The spouse of an eligible person may qualify if they also meet all of the conditions above and live in the same household. Both people must file their own application and meet all criteria to prove they are eligible as a couple.

Find answers to common questions about the program from the Supplemental Security Income Home Page.

Application Process

Visit the Understanding Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Application Process page for details on how to apply.

We can help you apply for SSI benefits if you make an appointment. You may either speak to someone on the phone or meet in person at your local Social Security office. You can also visit the local office without an appointment, but wait times will be longer.

To find other Social Security Administration (SSA) benefits you may qualify for, use the SSA Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool (BEST) on Benefits.gov. When you complete the questionnaire, you get a list of benefits to review. You can print this page for your records.

When you know which benefits you may apply for, click Apply for Social Security Benefits to apply online. You can also call the phone numbers below to learn more about SSA benefits and how to apply.

Last Updated: 08/08/2018