Everyone who receives disability benefits through SSI (Supplemental Security Income) is eligible for the same base amount, $794 (in 2021). But your actual monthly SSI payment will depend on whether you have any "countable" income, whether you are married, and what state you live in.
The average SSI payment in 2021 (by adults) is $586 per month. Children on SSI receive an average of $695 per month.
While SSI is a federal program (administered by the Social Security Administration), and the federal government pays a standard base rate of $794 per month, most SSI recipients receive less than the federal benefit rate, and some receive more. Your actual monthly payment will depend on how much income you or your family brings in or earns and how much of a "state supplemental payment" (SSP) your state pays, if any.
If you are married and your spouse is also eligible for SSI benefits, you'll get less than two individuals would get. The federal benefit rate for couples is only $1,191, which is less than two $794 payments.
If you have any income coming in other than SSI, some of it, but not all of it, will be subtracted from your SSI payment.
The SSA will first look to see what income you have is countable. Countable income includes:
But not all of your income is subtracted from your SSI payment. Each month, the SSA does not count:
Here is an example of how the SSA takes into account your income in calculating your SSI payment. Let's say Maria makes $625 per month from a part-time job, before taxes. Because the SSA won't count the first $20 of any income per month, or the first $65 of earnings, this leaves Maria's countable income at $540 ($625 - $20 - $65). Finally, the SSA doesn't count half of Maria's remaining earnings, or $270 ($540/2) in Maria's case. So, out of the $623, the SSA only counts $270 as countable income and will subtract $270 from Maria's SSI payment. Maria's monthly payment will be $524 ($794-$270).
While the federal benefit rate is the same throughout the United States, many states add a state supplemental payment onto the federal benefit. The payment varies from $10 to $400, depending on the state. Even within your own state, the supplementary payment can vary depending on whether you are married or single and what your living arrangement is. For instance, in 2021, California adds an extra $160 to the monthly SSI payment for most people living independently with cooking facilities and $247 to those living independently without cooking facilities.
Some states pay the supplement only to those living in nursing homes. For example, Texas pays a $60 supplement to those living in a nursing home, and pays nothing to others. Similarly, Georgia pays an extra $20 to those living in nursing homes, and nothing to others. Maine pays only $10 extra, both to those living independently and those living in nursing homes.
A few states don't pay a supplement at all, including Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
The SSA administers the state supplement for some states, so the payment is included in people's SSI checks in those states, but other states pay the supplement directly to you, separately from your SSI payment. If you live in a state that administers and pays its own supplement, you need to apply for the supplemental payment directly from a state agency (the SSA can tell you how). If the SSA administers the payment for your state, you apply for it automatically when you fill out an SSI application.
For more information, see our article on the state supplementary payment.
The federal rate amount regularly increases with cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs). The COLA is usually between 1.3% and 2%, but some years it can be as high as 3% or as low as 0%. In 2021, the COLA was 1.3%, which increased the maximum federal SSI payment from $783 in 2020 to $794 in 2021. Read our article on Social Security's annual COLA for more information.
Updated May 12, 2021