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Supplemental Security Income (Title XVI of the Social Security Act)​

Categories: Finances, Social Security

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program that provides cash payments to individuals who are elderly, blind, or disabled and have low incomes. In addition to the federal payment, some states add a small supplement to the monthly benefit. The amount varies by state, marital status, and living arrangements but usually ranges from $10 to $400 per month. Most people who qualify for SSI also qualify for their state’s Medicaid program and may be eligible for other programs. SSI payments are funded by general revenue (not the Social Security trust fund).

Legislative History

The Supplemental Security Income program can be traced to a 1948 Report of the Advisory Council on Social Security to the Senate Committee on Finance. In the report, two council members recommended that state assistance programs, aided by federal grants, be established to protect individuals from hardship due to disability. The Social Security Act Amendments of 1950 embraced this recommendation by establishing a state grant program known as Aid to the Permanently and Totally Disabled, which was later replaced by the Supplemental Security Income program in 1974, signed into law as Title XVI of the Social Security Act under President Nixon.


The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 ensured that the SSI programs could sustain benefits until 2022. In enacting the legislation, Congress called for an investigation of cost savings.