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Supplemental Security Income: By the Numbers

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Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program for the disabled. It pays benefits to people with a disability who meet a financial need threshold. Unlike Social Security Disability (SSD), the program does not require beneficiaries to have paid into the system while working. It is designed for people with disabilities, people age 65 or older, and those who are blind. In all instances recipients of SSI must have income below an established threshold.

Disability and Definitions

According to the American Community Survey (ACS), 19.6 percent of people aged 21 to 64 with a disability received Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in 2011. This translates to 3,693,300 people who received payments in that year. The numbers were derived from a large survey that asked seven questions. One asked whether respondents had received SSI benefits in the previous 12 months. The others asked people whether they were disabled based on their answers to these six questions:

  • Does this person have serious difficulty hearing?
  • Does this person have serious difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses?
  • Does this person have serious difficult concentrating, remembering or making decisions because of a physical, mental or emotional problem (asked of people aged five and older)
  • Does this person have serious challenges walking or climbing stairs?
  • Does the person have difficulty bathing or dressing?
  • Is the person ale to do errands alone such as visiting a doctor's office or shopping because of a physical, mental or emotional condition?

If a person answered yes to any of these questions, he or she was considered disabled for the purposes of the survey. Because this definition of disability may be different from the one used by the government, the numbers presented by the ACS may be slightly different from federal numbers.

Where do Recipients of SSI Benefits Live?

Where do these people live? According to the ACS, the highest percentages of disabled people receiving SSI benefits live in Washington, D.C., Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Other states with higher percentages of disabled people receiving SSI are:

  • California
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • West Virginia

Although these states overall had the highest proportion of disabled people receiving SSI benefits, other states were higher when considering their answers to the qualifying questions. Alaska had the highest proportion of disabled people receiving SSI who faced challenges with independent living. Washington, D.C. had the largest proportion of persons receiving SSI who had problems with bathing or dressing. Washington D.C. also had the largest proportion of individuals receiving SSI with cognitive disabilities, hearing problems and who had difficulties walking. Rhode Island, Idaho and Washington, D.C. had the highest proportions of individuals with visual limitations.

Get Help With Your Claim for Supplemental Security Income Benefits

Wherever you live, SSI benefits can be difficult to obtain because many claims are initially denied. It is important to get help if you encounter problems with your claim for benefits. If this is your situation, don't wait to take action. Do what so many others have done: Call Binder & Binder®, America's most successful SSI advocates. Find out how they can assist you.

Source: Cornell University, Disability Statistics: Online Resource for U.S. Disability Statistics," 2013.

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