Supplemental Security Income (SSI)


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The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is authorized by Title XVI of the Social Security Act and is known as Title XVI. The original 1935 Social Security Act, created the Social Security Retirement program and two welfare programs: Aid to Families with Dependent Children, and Aid to the Aged, Blind and Disabled population (“adult categories”); both welfare programs were administered by State and local governments with partial Federal funding. Over the years, these programs became more complex and inconsistent, with as many as 1,350 administrative agencies involved and payments varying more than 300% from State to State.

In 1969, President Nixon identified a need to reform these and related welfare programs to “bring reason, order and purpose into a tangle of overlapping programs.” As it became clear that the President’s comprehensive plan to change the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program would not pass Congress, attention shifted to the reform of the adult welfare categories. In particular, the notion arose that the administration of Aid to the Blind, Aid to the Disabled, and Aid to the Elderly should be federalized and run by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

In 1972 Congress federalized the “adult categories” by creating the Supplemental Security Income program and assigned responsibility for it to the SSA. SSI from the start also covered children who are disabled or blind. SSA was chosen to administer the new program because of its reputation for successful administration of the existing social insurance programs, Social Security Retirement and Survivors Insurance and Social Security Disability Insurance. SSA’s nationwide network of field offices and large-scale data processing and record-keeping operations also made it the logical choice to perform the major task of converting over 3 million people from State welfare programs to SSI.

In January 1974, the Supplemental Security Income program commenced nationwide.


Supplemental Security Income

The Social Security Administration is the federal agency responsible for the administration of the Supplemental Security Income program. The federal government provides a minimum benefit rate for those who are eligible throughout all 50 states.

State Supplemental Program (SSP)

States have the option to add an additional amount above the federal benefit rate with a state supplement. New York State is one of 46 states, along with the District of Columbia, that contributes a state supplement via the State Supplement Program (SSP). The SSP Bureau within the Center for Employment and Economic Supports of the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) administers and operates the SSP in NYS.


The federal SSI program is funded by general tax revenues; it is not funded through the Social Security tax. The State Supplemental Program is funded by NYS general tax revenues.

Summary of Supplemental Security Income

The Supplemental Security Income benefit provides a minimum level of monthly income to eligible individuals or couples nationwide who are aged, blind or disabled, as well as to eligible disabled or blind children. The amount of the SSI benefit will vary according to a claimant’s household living arrangements and other sources of income the individual or couple receives. Most states, including New York, provide a state supplement to this monthly benefit. Applicants must be aged, blind or disabled to qualify and must meet citizenship/immigration, income, and resource eligibility criteria, as well as reside in the U.S. to receive SSI. Eligible individuals and couples apply for SSI at local Social Security field offices located throughout the country.


For the sake of simplicity, although the State Supplement Program (SSP) is administered by NYS, for all essential purposes the SSP is linked to SSI. Therefore, unless otherwise noted, when the text references “SSI”, it means both the federal SSI benefit, as well as the SSP, whether the individual receives both the federal SSI benefit and the SSP benefit or the SSP benefit only.

Other Benefits under Supplemental Security Income


In New York State individuals eligible for SSI are automatically eligible for Medicaid and receive this health benefit without filing a separate application. Refer to Health Programs, Medicaid for information about Medicaid.


New York State is one of 46 states, along with the District of Columbia, that contributes a state supplement, above the SSI federal benefit rate. The Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance’s (OTDA) Center for Employment & Economic Supports SSP Bureau administers the NY State Supplement Program (SSP). SSP is discussed throughout the chapter.