The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, authorized by Title XVI of the Social Security Act, is a means-tested income assistance program financed from general tax revenues. Under SSI, disabled, blind, or aged individuals who have low incomes and limited resources are eligible for benefits regardless of their work histories. In June 2011, more than 8 million individuals received SSI benefits, receiving monthly payments of $499.40 on average. The SSI program paid out more than $4.3 billion in federally administered benefits that month. All but six states and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands supplement the federal SSI benefit with additional payments, which may be made directly by the state or combined with the federal payment.
As a means tested program, SSI places a limit on the assets or resources of its beneficiaries. However, there are four types of accounts that represent an important part of the overall SSI program and can be used by SSI beneficiaries to build assets or plan for the future, including (1) money placed into burial accounts, (2) money used as part of a Plan for Achieving Self-Support (PASS), (3) money placed in Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), and (4) money placed in dedicated accounts for children. For the purposes of determining SSI eligibility these accounts are not counted as resources and can be used by beneficiaries without affecting their eligibility.
This report provides an overview of income and resource limits for SSI benefit determinations as well as the four types of accounts exempt from the SSI resource limitations.
This report will be updated to reflect any changes in this legislation or other relevant legislative activity.
Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
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