The federal federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides monthly cash payments to older adults with very limited income and resources.
Most states supplement federal SSI payments so many people 65 and older receive a bigger monthly benefit.
Since it may take awhile to get approved, you should apply as soon as possible so you don't miss out on monthly income.
As the poverty rate for older adults rises,1 so does the number of people 65 and up receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments.2
Called “an assistance of last resort,”3 the SSI program provides minimum basic financial assistance to older adults and people with disabilities (regardless of age) with very limited income and resources. SSI cash benefits are helping a growing number of financially vulnerable older adults pay for monthly essentials.
You may be eligible to receive SSI benefits if you:4
- Are at least age 65 or blind or disabled
- Have limited income from a pension, wages, or other sources
- Have limited resources (items you own)
- Live in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands
- Are a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or meet other immigration criteria
How much does Supplemental Security Income pay per month?
If you are eligible for SSI, you could receive a maximum 2023 federal monthly benefit of $914 as an individual, or $1,371 for couples.4 In January 2023, the average monthly SSI payment for people 65 and older was $553.94.5
SSI benefit amounts differ from person to person. The Social Security Administration (SSA), which operates the SSI program, uses your income and resources to calculate your monthly payment. There are a lot of variables, like how much and what kind of income you have. When you apply for SSI, an SSA representative will review your income and assets with you to determine your SSI payment amount.
Can I get financial assistance from the state if I’m getting SSI benefits?
Most states and the District of Columbia add a cash supplement to federal SSI payments. The monthly SSI benefit amounts vary based on where you live.
In January 2023, the average monthly state benefit for people 65 and older was $207.67 in states where the SSA runs the supplementary payment programs.6 Those states are California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.7 All other states offering supplemental payments administer their own programs.
There are a few states that don’t offer additional payments. They are Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia. There is also no additional payment available for people living in the Northern Mariana Islands.7
When will I receive my SSI benefit each month?
You’ll typically get your SSI payment on the first day of the month, unless the first day of the month falls on a weekend or federal holiday. When that happens, you’ll receive your SSI payment on the last business day of the prior month.8
“That means you may get two SSI payments in the same month. We do this to avoid putting you at a financial disadvantage and make sure that you don’t have to wait beyond the first of the month to get your payment,” the SSA says. “It does not mean that you are receiving a duplicate payment in the previous month, so you do not need to contact us to report the second payment.”8
In 2023, there are four months in which you’ll receive two payments. Those months and dates are:9
- March 1 and March 31
- June 1 and June 30
- Sept. 1 and Sept. 29
- Dec. 1 and Dec. 29
Does the maximum SSI payment amount change every year?
The annual Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) also applies to SSI, so the maximum monthly benefit increases each year. For 2023, the COLA is 8.7%. That increase lifted the maximum monthly SSI benefit for individuals from $841 in 2022 to $914 in 2023. For couples, the maximum monthly SSI payment amount rose from $1,261 to $1,371.10
How long does it take to start receiving SSI payments?
It varies, but the average is 3-5 months from your application date. You can check the status of your application at your my Social Security online account, or by calling the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
Can SSI beneficiaries ever get cash assistance sooner?
New claimants experiencing financial emergencies, and who are waiting for SSI benefits that are delayed, may be eligible to receive one emergency advance payment. According to the SSA, a financial emergency means “you need money right away due to a threat to health or safety, such as not enough money for food, clothing, shelter, or medical care.”11
The maximum emergency advance payment is the smallest of one of the following:11
- The SSI federal benefit rate (plus any federally administered state supplement)
- The total amount of the benefits due
- The amount requested for the financial emergency
People receiving these advances must repay them. The SSA will deduct the amount of the emergency advance from the SSI payments you’re waiting to receive, and you’ll receive the difference. If there are no past payments due to you, the SSA will subtract it from your monthly SSI benefit amount in up to six installments.11
If you believe you qualify for SSI payments, you should apply as soon as possible to avoid missing out on benefits. Test your eligibility using the SSA’s Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool and then start the application process online.
You can also find out about other programs you may qualify for by visiting BenefitsCheckUp®. Our free, confidential tool can help you assess your eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other programs that can help pay for health care, medicine, food, and utilities.
1. U.S. Census Bureau. Poverty in the United States: 2021. Sept. 13, 2022. Found on the internet at https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2022/demo/p60-277.html
2. Social Security Administration. Annual Report of the Supplemental Security Income Program. July 8, 2022. Found on the internet at https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/ssir/SSI22/ssi2022.pdf
3. Social Security Administration. Annual Report of the Supplemental Security Income Program. May 29, 2020. Found on the internet at https://www.ssa.gov/oact/ssir/SSI20/ssi2020.pdf
4. Social Security Administration. You May Be Able to Get Supplemental Security Income. January 2023. Found on the internet at https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-11069.pdf
5. Social Security Administration Monthly Statistical Snapshot. January 2023. Found on the internet at https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/quickfacts/stat_snapshot/
6. Social Security Administration. SSI Monthly Statistics. Federally Administered State Supplementation Payments. January 2023. Found on the internet at https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/ssi_monthly/2023-01/table19.html
7. Social Security Administration. Understanding Supplemental Security Income SSI Benefits. 2022 Edition. Found on the internet at https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-benefits-ussi.htm
8. Social Security Administration. Getting Two SSI Payments in One Month. Dec. 8, 2022. Found on the internet at https://blog.ssa.gov/getting-two-ssi-payments-in-one-month/
9. Social Security Administration. Schedule of Social Security Benefit Payments. 2023. Found on the internet at https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10031-2023.pdf
10. Social Security Administration. Social Security Changes – COLA Fact Sheet. Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) Information for 2023. Found on the internet at https://www.ssa.gov/news/press/factsheets/colafacts2023.pdf
11. Social Security Administration. Understanding Supplemental Security Income Expedited Payments. 2022 Edition. Found on the internet at https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-expedite-ussi.htm