Have SSI benefits changed greatly over time?

Supplemental Security Income was established in 1974. It was originally meant to help the elderly by giving them a bit more than just Social Security. However, it has emerged as an antipoverty program, with 86 percent of those receiving SSI due to some sort of disability.

In 1984, changes were made that would allow more people to qualify who had mental impairments. Children were able to qualify for SSI more easily after a 1990 Supreme Court ruling; however, some of those changes were reversed in 1996 by Congress.

About 60 percent of those who are disabled receive SSI because of some sort of mental impairment. There has been a steady increase in the number of SSI recipients for those with mental impairments.

SSI currently provides a married couple with $1,082 and $721 for a single person. If someone has other sources of income, then that amount can be reduced. In most states, if someone receives SSI, then they are automatically eligible to receive Medicaid as well. About 50 percent of those who receive Medicaid also receive food stamps and about 25 percent get help with housing costs.

While SSI is not enough to move someone above the poverty line, it does help relieve some of the costs that family members might incur when caring for the elderly or disabled. Applying for SSI benefits is not easy and if your claim is denied, it is best to have a disability benefits lawyer to help with an appeal. A thorough understanding of SSI requirements is needed and an experienced Minnesota disability attorney can help take some of the headaches away from the application and appeal process.

Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "Policy Basics: Introduction to Supplemental Security Income" Oct. 08, 2014

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