Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is an option that may be available to those who are disabled, blind, indigent or elderly and lack sufficient income or resources. According to the Social Security Administration, to meet what is termed the “aged” requirement for SSI benefits, the applicant must be 65 years or older. That is not to say that those younger cannot qualify through other requirements, as children can qualify for SSI benefits.
The difference between SSI and Social Security disability (SSD) benefits is that SSI benefits do not rely on work history for the applicant to qualify for the benefits. Those who do not have the necessary work history to qualify for SSD benefits may be able to receive SSI benefits. Conversely, those that do have the necessary work history may be able to receive Social Security disability and retirement benefits as well.
To be considered disabled for SSI purposes, the applicant must have a physical or mental impairment that can be determined medically and creates an inability for the applicant to perform substantial gainful activity; is expected to result in death; or last for a period of twelve or more months. This is a similar criterion as the one used to determine, and award, Social Security disability benefits.
In addition, SSI benefits are based on income requirements and financial limits that the applicant must also meet to receive benefits. Also similarly to Social Security disability benefits, applicants for SSI benefits who have been denied have the right to appeal that decision. While there are similarities between the SSI and Social Security disability program, there are also marked differences and significant differences related to requirements in some instances. Because of this, SSI is an option for those struggling with disability, or other difficulty, to consider for assistance and, at times, much-needed help.
Source: Social Security Administration, “Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits,” Accessed Sept. 16, 2014