The Difference Between Supplemental Security Income and Social Security

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There are many types of benefits. The Social Security Administration is responsible for both Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and while they’re similar there are a few key differences.

The SSA outlines the differences in this fact sheet to make it simple to understand. SSI is needs based and is a safety net program for people with limited resources. Social Security is an entitlement program that is based on work history and tax contribution.

SSI benefits are based on State and Federal government rules and is paid for through general revenue from taxes. Social Security is determined by wage indexes and paid by employers and payroll taxes.

SSI offers individual benefits only, while the other offers additional family benefits. Traditionally both programs are for older adults, but SSI can also offer benefits to children with disabilities and illness.

It is possible to have both types of benefits at the same time. However, applying for additional or different benefits while receiving SSI can affect the payout from that program. SSI payments don’t automatically become retirement payments when you reach early retirement age.

The SSA can have the ability to force you into claiming your Social Security benefits at age 62, but by receiving both benefits at the same time, your payout won’t decrease. Rather, the sum of both programs will equal you average calculated payout.

It’s important to distinguish these benefits and learn how they can work together. Protecting our Social Security Trust and funds for Medicare is vital as well. By protecting one, we protect both; that way we can strengthen each program so we can rely on them both as we need them. Staying informed makes us confident, in our ability to decide what types of benefits we need and to demand what we deserve.  

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