If you or someone you know is 70 years old and needs financial help, going on SSI may be a good option. SSI benefits provide cash income, and recipients are often eligible for other types of aid. A person does not need to qualify for other types of Social Security benefits to receive SSI.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is a government program that provides income to elderly, blind and disabled people who live on a limited income. While the program is administered by the Social Security Administration, the funding for SSI comes from general tax revenue, not Social Security taxes. Unlike other Social Security benefits, a person does not need to qualify for the program by working and contributing to the Social Security system for a prescribed number of years. Anyone who is disabled, blind or elderly, and who meets the program's income requirements, can apply for SSI, even if they never worked or paid Social Security taxes. A person who is not blind or disabled can qualify for SSI once he reaches the age of 65.
Other Social Security Benefits
It is possible for someone to qualify for SSI as well as regular Social Security benefits. SSI eligibility is based on income and financial resources, so even if a person receives Social Security retirement or survivor's benefits, if these benefits are low and she doesn't have other sources of income, she may still be able to receive SSI.
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Applying for SSI
Applications for SSI must be completed either over the telephone or in person at a Social Security Office. However, it is possible to fill out part of an SSI application online. Contact the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 to make arrangements for applying for SSI benefits.
Eligibility for Other Benefits
In many places, a person who receives SSI is automatically eligible for various types of assistance, including food stamps, rental assistance, reduced utility bills and subsidized health care. If you, or someone you know, is on SSI and needs additional help in meeting day-to-day needs, your local social services department can help with an application for additional aid.