Key Takeaways

  • The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides monthly cash assistance to people who are 65 and older or blind or disabled.

  • Older adults with very limited financial resources may be eligible for these payments. Couples can have no more than $3,000 in assets to qualify.

  • The maximum monthly benefit is $914 for individuals and $1,371 for couples. Payments vary based on your income and where you live.

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program was created to provide financial support to older adults and people with disabilities (regardless of age) with very limited income and resources.

What is Supplmental Security Income, or SSI?

In creating SSI in 1972, the U.S. Congress called it “an assistance source of last resort.”1 For 38% of adults 65 and older who receive SSI benefits, it is their only source of income.2

The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers the SSI program, but Social Security and SSI are separate benefits that have two different sources of funding. Social Security benefits are funded by payroll taxes, and SSI is funded by general tax revenues. The annual Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA)—8.7% for 20233—is applied to SSI payments, too.

In July 2023, there were more than 2.3 million SSI recipients over the age of 65, representing 31% of all people receiving SSI.4

Who is eligible for SSI?

You may qualify for SSI assistance if you:5

  • 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)
  • Are a U.S. citizen or national or noncitizen who meets certain criteria
  • Live in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands

How does SSI work for older adults?

If you are 65 or older and are not disabled or blind, your eligibility for SSI benefits is determined by how much money you have coming in and the value of other resources  you may have.

For SSI, income is defined as “any item an individual receives in cash or in-kind that can be used to meet his or her need for food or shelter.” Income that doesn’t meet SSI requirements is subtracted from your gross income. What remains is called your countable income. Countable income is then subtracted from the monthly federal benefit to determine your payment.6

To be considered for SSI to begin with, your income must fall below a monthly maximum before this calculation is done. The more income you have, the lower your SSI benefit will be. The monthly maximum is $1,913 for individuals whose income is only from wages, and $934 for individuals whose income is not from wages.7

Couples whose income is only from wages can earn up to $2,827 a month. The monthly maximum for couples whose income is not from wages is $1,391.7

Resources are assets—things like life insurance, cash, vehicles, stocks, and U.S. savings bonds. Individuals can have up to $2,000 in resources, and couples can have up to $3,000.8

But not all resources and income sources count when calculating your potential SSI benefit amount. A Social Security representative will review your assets with you when you apply for SSI.

There are other SSI eligibility requirements to meet if you are disabled or blind.

How much SSI assistance can I get?

The maximum 2023 SSI benefit amount for an eligible person is $914. The maximum SSI benefit for an eligible couple is $1,371.5

But not everyone who is eligible will receive those exact benefit amounts. SSI payments vary from person to person. For example, you might receive more than $914 if you live in a state that provides additional monthly financial assistance. Or your payment could be lower,  depending on how much countable income you have, and other factors.

In July 2023, the average monthly SSI payment for people 65 and older was $553.16.4 SSI payments arrive on the first of the month.9

How do I apply for SSI?

You must apply for SSI through Social Security. You can get started by answering a set of questions online. That should take between 5-10 minutes. After you complete the online form, you will receive a letter 7-14 days later giving you the date and time of an appointment at your local Social Security office. During that appointment, an SSA representative will help you apply for benefits.5

If you’d rather not start the SSI application process online, you can call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to make an appointment at the Social Security office near you.5

Am I eligible for other financial assistance programs?

If you qualify for SSI, you usually can get benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid.5 Try the SSA’s Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool to find out what other federal programs you may qualify for.

And visit BenefitsCheckUp®, NCOA's free, confidential tool, to assess your eligibility for programs that can help pay for health care, medicine, food, utilities, and more. Every year, billions of dollars in benefits programs go unclaimed because older adults don't know they’re eligible or how to apply. BenefitsCheckUp can help you find savings for yourself, or for someone you know.


1. Annual Report of the Supplemental Security 3. Income Program. May 29, 2020. Found on the internet at

2. Policy Basics: Supplemental Security Income. Aug. 12, 2022. Found on the internet at

3. Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) Information for 2023. Found on the internet at

4. Monthly Statistical Snapshot, July 2023. Released August 2023. Found on the internet at

5. You May Be Able to Get Supplemental Security Income. January 2023. Found on the internet at

6. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Income. 2022. Found on the internet at

7. 2023 Update. January 2023. Found on the internet at

8. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Resources. 2022. Found on the internet at

9. What Day of the Month Do I Get My Social Security Payment? June 6, 2019. Found on the internet at