BOX 7.1 Supplemental Security Income Program

Authorized by Title XVI of the Social Security Act of 1965 and begun in 1974, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program replaced state-administered adult assistance programs to provide uniform federal income support to the needy aged, blind, and disabled who were not covered by Social Security. or for those who were only minimally covered. The program is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA).


To be eligible for the SSI Program, individuals must meet income and resource requirements, and must satisfy one of the following categorical requirements:


    elderly—65 years of age or older;


    blind—defined as those people whose vision is 20/200 or less with a correcting lens in the better eye, or those with tunnel vision 20 degrees or less; or


    disabled—defined as those people who cannot "engage in any substantial gainful activity because they have a medically-determined physical or mental impairment that is expected to result in death or that has lasted, or is expected to last for a continuous 12-month period."


    spouse or child of a disabled worker.

    Children less than 18 years of age (or less than 22, if a full-time student) are also eligible to receive SSI payments, if they are blind or disabled unmarried, and if their family meets the income and resource requirements.


    SSI was designed as a program of last resort; beneficiaries must file for all entitled benefits before SSI payments are determined. (It should be noted, however, SSI beneficiaries may not receive TANF Payments. See Table 5.1). SSI payments are adjusted annually to reflect the cost of living (COLA). As of September 1997, the average payment was about $436 per month (Vobejda and Goldstein. 1997).

    The rationale for the benefits is to help families meet disability-related costs of raising a disabled child, such as medical supplies and equipment to help compensate parents for lost income when they stay

    professionals (Leonard et al., 1992). In short, children with special needs face even greater challenges to access of appropriate health care and other needed services.

    We take all children. In fact, let's be clear about it—we look for the sick children, because in my opinion, those who have a special health care need, who are in a low-income family, these are the children who are most at risk.

    Charles LaVallee

    Western Pennsylvania Caring Foundation for Children

    Public Workshop, June 2, 1997

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