The United States Social Security Administration (SSA) defines SSI (Supplemental Security Income) as "a Federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues (not Social Security taxes) designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people, who have little or no income. It provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter."
SSI eligibility is a gateway to a variety of services for transitioning students with disabilities. The requirements are established by the Social Security Act and its regulations. A student must meet both income and disability eligibility requirements to receive SSI benefits.
Individuals of any age who are blind or disabled may be eligible for SSI benefits. Other eligibility requirements include:
The SSA classifies an individual as a child if he or she is under 18 years of age, or is under 22 years of age, not married, not a head of household and regularly attends school. The SSA definition of "blind" is the same for individuals of all ages; the definition of 'disabled' is slightly different for children and adults. For a child, the SSA defines 'disabled' as having "a medically determinable physical or mental impairment, which:
Individuals over 18 years of age who do not meet SSA’s criteria for being considered a child must meet adult eligibility criteria, including that the impairment "results in the inability to do substantial gainful activity."
SSI/SSDI work incentives allow students to participate in paid work and maintain their benefits. Work incentives may be resources to discuss with students and families when developing Individual Educational Plans (IEPs) that include continued employment, education, or training after high school. Work incentives allow a student to:
SSI beneficiaries, representative payees, and deemors may report their monthly wages to the Social Security Administration by mail or telephone or by taking their paystubs to the local SSA office.
Social Security Benefits for People with Disabilities
The Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs are the largest of several Federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. This webpage provides information on Social Security programs, eligibility, applying for benefits and appealing benefits denials.