Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a need-based Benefit program that is administered by Social Security. Eligibility for SSI is dependent upon the financial resources of the applicant. SSI disability claimants must go through the same disability medical determination process as individuals who file for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) disability. In that sense, there is no difference between SSDI and SSI.

You may be eligible to receive SSI in addition to monthly Social Security benefits, if your Social Security benefit is low enough to qualify. The amount of your SSI benefit depends on where you live. However, many states add money to the basic check. Generally, the more income you have, the less your SSI benefit will be. If your countable income is over the allowable limit, you cannot receive SSI benefits.


If your application for SSI is approved, you may be eligible to receive medical assistance (Medi-Cal) automatically. A separate Medi-Cal application is not necessary. People who get SSI in California cannot get food stamps because the state adds money to the federal SSI payment instead.

However, you may be able to get food stamps:

  • While you are waiting for a decision on your SSI application
  • If your application for SSI is denied
  • If you move to another state.

If you are under 65 years of age, and you are applying for Supplemental Security Income, you must prove that you are disabled. Social Security defines disability as the inability to do any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. To meet this definition, you must have a severe impairment(s) that makes you unable to do your past relevant work or any other substantial gainful work that exists in the national economy. If your severe impairment(s) does not meet or is not medically equal to a listing, Social Security will assess your residual functional capacity. Social Security will use this residual functional capacity assessment to determine if you are able to perform your past relevant work. If Social Security finds that you cannot perform your past relevant work, they use the same residual functional capacity assessment and your vocational factors of age, education, and work experience to determine if you are able to do other work.

There are different rules for determining disability for individuals who are statutorily blind. There are also different rules for determining disability for widows, widowers, and surviving divorced spouses.





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