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Supplemental Security Income

Early Assistance Programs, Creation Of Ssi, Administration And Funding, Ssi Federal Benefits And Poverty

The Supplemental Security Income program (SSI) was established, in 1974, to provide assistance to poor aged, blind, and disabled people—including children. This entry describes why SSI was created, how the program works, and why it matters to millions of Americans.

SSI is a federal program, funded through the general revenues and supplemented by the states, that provides cash assistance to needy people—an eighty-year-old widow living alone and having no other income than her $125 Social Security benefit and her SSI check; a thirty-five-year-old man with a mental disability, unable to participate in the paid labor force and having no income other than his SSI check; a seven-year-old child with mental retardation living with a single mother whose marginal income leaves the family well below the poverty threshold. For these and millions of other vulnerable people with low or no income, SSI is the program that saves them from destitution.

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