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Supplemental Security Income - Ssi State Supplements

age social federal living benefit receive

Approximately one-third of SSI recipients also receive state supplements. There are two types of state supplements: optional and mandatory. States have always had the option to supplement the federal benefit in order to meet the needs of their special populations. In addition, states are required by law to maintain the December 1973 income levels of people who were brought from the old state programs to the new SSI program in 1974. (Texas is an exception, because of its constitutional bar against mandatory supplementation.) Because most state benefits were very low and federal benefit amounts have increased steadily, only about eighteen hundred people continue to receive these benefit supplements.

The individual states determine whether they will provide optional supplements, to Table 1 Basic Eligibility Requirements SOURCE: U.S. Social Security Administration whom, and in what amount. Some states provide supplemental benefits to all SSI recipients, while others restrict their supplements to specific categories of people, such as residents of care facilities or those living in the home of another. In 2000 only seven states and one territory provided no supplement to the federal SSI basic benefit: Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, Northern Mariana Islands, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.

State supplement amounts vary widely. For example, in 2000 an individual living in a Medicaid facility in Arizona might receive a $10 monthly supplement, while an individual living alone in New York might receive $87. For those living in homes or residential care, the supplement is often higher. While federal SSI benefits are price-adjusted, no state increased supplements for aged individuals or couples as fast as inflation rose (U.S. Congress, House Committee on Ways and Means, 1998). In other words, over time SSI state supplements for those over age sixty-five have become worth less and less in terms of purchasing power.

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