When I apply for SSI Disability, why does Social Security require me to apply for other benefits?

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Learn about SSI in relation to other benefits you may qualify for and about SSI’s requirement to apply for all benefits payable to you.

Supplemental Security Income
SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income. Supplemental Security Income is a federal public assistance program for disabled individuals and people age sixty-five or older whose income and assets are below the SSI limits.

SSI is intended to supplement other benefits that you are eligible to receive. For this reason, when you apply for SSI, you will be required to apply for other benefits such as Social Security Disability, workers’ compensation, V.A. Compensation, and private retirement or disability benefits.  In addition to applying, you must pursue approval by providing everything the other benefit program requests for your application. If you are denied benefits because you did not fully pursue your claim for other benefits, your SSI benefits could be terminated. If you are denied for other reasons, you will usually be required to appeal.

Once you receive the other benefits, your SSI benefits will be reduced to supplement your other income or your SSI payments may terminate because your other benefits are higher than the SSI income limit.

When You May Be Eligible for Both SSI and SSDI
It is worth noting that individuals with Social Security benefits below the SSI income limit may be eligible for both Social Security and SSI on an ongoing basis, if their total income and assets fall within the SSI guidelines.

If your Social Security benefit is too high to receive ongoing SSI, you may be eligible for SSI for a limited period of time. Because financial eligibility for SSI is determined month by month and income counts only in the month it is received, a person who qualifies for a Social Security Disability benefit that is higher than SSI limits may be eligible for SSI for months that his or her Social Security claim was being processed and during the five-month waiting period for which no Social Security benefits are payable. When you file Social Security Disability, the Social Security Administration will automatically discuss your potential eligibility for SSI.

For more information about SSI, see our articles What Is Supplemental Security Income Disability—Also Known as SSI—and How Is It Different from Social Security Disability Insurance—Known as SSDI or SSD? and What Requirements Do I Have to Meet for SSI Disability Eligibility?

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