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What is SSI?

SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, is a program run by the Social Security Administration. SSI provides monthly benefits to persons who are elderly, blind, or disabled and have limited income and assets. People who receive SSI are usually eligible for other programs, such as Medical Assistance and food stamps.

Who is eligible for SSI benefits?

The eligibility requirements for SSI are: 

1) To get SSI benefits, you must be elderly, blind, or disabled.

  • Elderly means that you are 65 or older. 

  • Blind means that you are totally blind or have very poor eyesight.

  • Disabled means that you have a physical or mental problem that is expected to last more than 12 months or result in death.
2) In Wisconsin, you must have a monthly income below $603 if you are single and below $904 if you are married. (There are different income limits for other states). Income includes: Social Security benefits, pensions, work earnings, and non-cash items (such as food, clothing, or shelter). Food stamps, housing assistance, and home energy assistance are not counted as income. If you work, different income limits apply. 

3) You must also have assets below a certain amount to be eligible for SSI. The asset limit for a single person is $2,000 and if you are married the limit is $3,000. Assets which are counted are: cash, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, real property that is not your home, and some other types of property and liquid assets. Your home and some of your personal belongings do not count. Your car, burial plots and funds within certain limits, and life insurance within certain limits may also be excluded when the value of your assets is determined.

4) To receive SSI, you must live in one of the 50 states, Washington, D.C., or the Northern Mariana Islands. You can not be absent from the county for a full calendar month or more than 30 consecutive days. You are also required to be either a U.S. citizen; a lawful permanent resident with 40 work credits; or fall within certain groups of American Indians, noncitizens with a military service connection, refugees or asylees during the first seven years, or noncitizens receiving SSI on August 22, 1996.

SSI State Supplement

The State of Wisconsin offers additional benefits to its residents. If you live in Wisconsin and are eligible for SSI, you may also be eligible for the SSI State Supplement. If you are single, you may receive $83.78 from the state. If you are married, you may receive $132.05.

You can also receive a higher state supplement, called SSI-E, if you have exceptional needs. To get this higher amount, you will need to request an "SSI-E assessment". 

You should contact the SSI/State Supplement hotline at 1-800-675-0249 (if you live in the Madison area, call 221-0148) for application and eligibility information. 

Where can I apply for SSI?

You can apply for SSI benefits at your local Social Security office. Call 1-800-772-1213 to make an appointment with a representative. You can call between the hours of 7:00am and 7:00pm on business days. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can call the "TTY" number, 1-800-325-0778.

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