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Is SSI a Social Security benefit?

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2017 | Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Previous posts here have detailed the differences between Social Security Disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income. But, confusion may still linger. After all, if Supplemental Security Income is a program managed by the Social Security Administration, doesn’t that make SSI a form of Social Security benefit?

The simple answer is “no.” As a recent article pointed out, Supplemental Security Income came into existence in 1973 when Congress passed legislation to standardize and provide stability to welfare programs that, prior to that year, were administered by each of the different states. In deliberating on how this new national welfare program would be best administered, the Congress settled on the Social Security Administration. Why? Because the SSA already had a nationwide infrastructure in place, and the job the SSA was doing — distributing Social Security benefits to eligible participants – was similar to what was going to need to occur to evaluate applicants for SSI benefits and then distribute those benefits.

The confusion that could still linger for many Americans, including for our readers in Los Angeles, is the source of funding for these separate benefits. As previous posts here have pointed out, the funding for SSD benefits comes from the paychecks of workers throughout America. Funding for Supplemental Security Income, on the other hand, comes from the country’s general tax-based budget.

For those who may believe they need to file for either federal benefit — SSD benefits or SSI benefits — it is important to have the facts of your own unique circumstances analyzed. Doing so could enlighten a potential applicant as to which program is most appropriate.

Source:, “Social Security and You: SSI benefits aren’t Social Security,” Tom Margenau, Jan. 20, 2017

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