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Difference Between Social Security, Supplemental Security Income

The next Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments for the more than 8 million people in Indiana and elsewhere who receive the benefits will be a bit higher.

SSI recipients are on target to receive a 2.8 percent cost-of-living-adjustment, better known as COLA. The Social Security Administration (SSA) announced the increased rates last month that will take effect December 31.

Some Americans receive both Social Security and SSI benefits, with more than 67 million people receiving Social Security. Those recipients also will see an increase of 2.8 percent.

Those whose benefits will increase should have received notice of such already.

But just what is the difference between Social Security and SSI?

SSI is a federal income supplement that is paid for by general tax revenues and not Social Security taxes. It helps both adults and children who are disabled or blind and who have no or very little income to meet their basic necessities, such as shelter, food and clothing. It is needs-based, and you must apply for SSI, qualify for eligibility and be approved. Your application can be denied if you don’t meet the criteria.

Social Security, however, generally is for retirees who can apply to receive benefits once they hit age 61 years and nine months. They have paid into the Social Security system through their earnings. And while there still is an application process, as long as you meet the requirements for retirement benefits, you will receive a monthly payment.

Applying for Social Security is much easier, as is getting approved. People who are denied SSI benefits may ask for reconsideration, but they will want to put forth a well-prepared appeal. An attorney can work with you from start to finish on your application.