State Assistance Programs for SSI Recipients, January 2009

Guide to Reading the State Summaries

This guide explains the program features detailed in the summaries for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Although each state does not feature all of the assistive programs listed below, the three major state assistance programs are:

To facilitate comparisons across states, a separate section includes four tables that summarize:

With the exception of Missouri and Rhode Island, all states and the District of Columbia have provided current data for this publication. The state summaries contain information on the program features discussed below.

State Supplementation

Mandatory Minimum Supplementation

The states provide mandatory minimum supplementation only to recipients who were converted to the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program from the former state assistance programs when the SSI program began in 1974. Mandatory minimum state supplementary payments are required by Public Law 93-66 to maintain the December 1973 payment levels that these recipients received under the former state assistance programs. States are required to provide this supplementation to maintain their eligibility for Title XIX (Medicaid) federal matching funds.

Optional State Supplementation

Some states provide optional monthly supplements to help persons meet needs not fully covered by federal SSI payments. The state determines whether it will make a payment, to whom, and in what amount. These supplements, paid on a regular monthly basis, are intended to cover such items as food, shelter, clothing, utilities, and other daily and special necessities. Some states provide optional supplementary payments to all persons eligible for SSI benefits. Others limit payments to certain SSI recipients such as the blind or residents of domiciliary care facilities, or extend payments to persons who are ineligible for SSI because their income is too high. In most cases a separate count for these individuals is not possible.

Administration. The governmental unit responsible for administering these payments is a state or local agency or the Social Security Administration (SSA). Under state administration, the state must absorb both program benefits and administrative costs. Under federal administration, the state must reimburse SSA for the cost of the program benefits and, as of October 1, 2008, must pay $10.45 in administrative costs for each benefit paid. As of October 1, 2008, the rate was adjusted for inflation as calculated by the change in the consumer price index (CPI) between June 2007 and June 2008, rounded to the nearest whole cent. The Commissioner may select a different rate for a state, taking into account the complexity of administering the state's supplementary payment program.

Effective date. The date when the state instituted or revised its optional supplementation program.

Statutory basis for payment. The state law(s) authorizing the supplementary payments.

Funding. The source of funds for supplementary payments and administrative costs. In states requiring financial participation from local governments, the portions contributed by the state and the locality are indicated.

Passalong method. To maintain eligibility for Medicaid reimbursement, any state making supplementary payments after June 30, 1977, must continue making payments and must pass along the cost-of-living increase to the federal benefit rate (FBR). Two methods are available to ensure that cost-of-living increases are passed on to the recipients: the payment levels method and the total expenditure method.

Under the payment levels method, the State must maintain the March 1983 payment level for each living arrangement category. However, in July 1983, the expected cost-of-living adjustment was delayed until January 1984, so instead there was a general increase in the FBR. Thus, to determine the required supplementary payment levels, the March 1983 payment levels are reduced by the amounts the FBR general increase exceeded the expected July 1983 cost-of-living increase, which are $10.30 for an individual, $15.40 for an eligible couple, and $5.50 for an essential person.

Under the total expenditure method, state expenditures for supplementary payments in the current calendar year must at least equal expenditures in the preceding calendar year. If expenditures fall short in the current year, the state must increase expenditures in the next calendar year by an amount at least equal to the shortfall.

Place of application. The office(s) accepting applications for supplementary payments.

Scope of coverage. The categories of persons the state has elected to supplement. States with state-administered programs establish their own eligibility conditions and payment categories. States with federally administered programs must adhere to SSI eligibility criteria but are allowed to establish additional income exclusions and payment categories.

Resource limitations. The resource limitations and exclusions for federally administered state supplementation are the same as for federal SSI payments: countable resources must be worth $2,000 or less for an individual, or $3,000 or less for a couple. Countable resources are properties—real or personal—that count toward the resource limits. Recognizing that not everything an individual owns is available for his or her support and maintenance, the law provides for excluding certain resources in determining eligibility for SSI. Excluded resources include (but are not limited to):

Income exclusions. An exclusion is the amount of a recipient's income that is not counted against the state supplementary payment.

In general, an SSI recipient's income from sources other than SSI is counted against the SSI payment amount. Some income, however, is excluded from being counted. The federal program excludes $20 per month of earned or unearned income; in addition, $65 per month of earned income plus one-half of the remaining earnings is excluded. Some types of income are entirely excluded, such as certain home energy and support and maintenance assistance, food stamps, most federally funded housing assistance, state assistance based on need, one-third of child support payments, and income received infrequently or irregularly.

States that choose federal administration must exclude at least the amounts excluded by the federal program and may exclude more. Countable income is deducted first from the federal payment. Any income that remains to be counted after the federal payment is reduced to zero is deducted from the state supplemen-tary payment.

States with state-administered programs can establish their own income exclusions of any amount and type.

Recoveries, liens, and assignments. Provisions of state supplementation plans governing recovery of assistance payments and assumption of a recipient's property by the agency. As a condition of providing assistance, a state may require that a lien be placed on a recipient's property. Such a requirement does not affect a person's eligibility or payment status for federal SSI benefits or federally administered state supplementary payments.

Financial responsibility of relatives. State supplementation provisions that govern the responsibility of relatives (other than parent for child and spouse for spouse) for providing economic support and returning overpayments.

Interim assistance reimbursement (IAR). The Social Security Administration may reimburse a state that has provided basic needs assistance to an individual during the period in which either the person's application for SSI was pending or his or her SSI benefits were suspended or terminated. The individual's retroactive SSI payment is sent to the state as reimbursement if:

Payment calculation method. States with state administration determine the method by which payments are calculated and what, if anything, will affect the payment. States with federal administration follow federal guidelines.

Payment levels. The maximum state supplementary payments and the combined maximum federal and state payments that can be awarded to recipients without countable income are presented, by state-designated living arrangements, in Table 1 in each state summary. Unless otherwise stated, payment levels apply equally to aged, blind, and disabled recipients. The federal benefit rates that are included in the combined payment levels became effective January 2009 (unless otherwise stated) and are given in the table below.

Federal benefit rates, January 2009 (in dollars)
Living arrangements Individual Couple Essential person a
Living independently 674.00 1,011.00 338.00
Living in the household of another b 449.34 674.00 225.33
Living in a Medicaid facility c 30.00 60.00 . . .
NOTE: . . . = not applicable.
a. This represents the additional amount included in a recipient's check to cover the needs of a household member who provides essential care and services to the recipient and whose needs were previously taken into account in determining the recipient's assistance payment under a state plan approved under titles I, X, XIV, or XVI of the Social Security Act.
b. If the recipient lives in another person's household for a full calendar month and receives both food and shelter from that person, the federal benefit rate (amounts for living independently) is reduced by one-third.
c. Includes eligible persons who live in a public or private medical institution throughout a month and Medicaid is paying more than 50 percent of the cost of their care. It also includes eligible children under age 18 who live in a public or private medical institution throughout a month and Medicaid, or a combination of Medicaid and private insurance, is paying more than 50 percent of the cost of care.

In states where the SSI payments are federally administered, each living arrangement is described according to the following federal living arrangements. The state may also have other living arrangements. States that administer the SSI payment have the option to supplement and determine their own definitions of living arrangements.

Federal Code A. Includes eligible persons who:

It also includes eligible persons for whom Codes B, C, and D do not apply.

Federal Code B. Includes eligible persons who:

The Code A payment standard is reduced by one-third for people in federal Code B living arrangements.

Federal Code C. Includes eligible children under age 18 who live in the same household as their parents (that is, deeming applies). The payment standard is the same as in Code A.

Federal Code D. Includes eligible persons who live in a public or private medical institution throughout a month and Medicaid is paying more than 50 percent of the cost of their care. It also includes eligible children under age 18 who live in a public or private medical institution throughout a month and Medicaid, or a combination of Medicaid and private insurance, is paying more than 50 percent of the cost of care.

Number of recipients. The number of recipients receiving optional payments from the state is displayed in Table 2 in each state summary. This number may also include persons who are ineligible for federal SSI payments but meet state eligibility criteria.

Total expenditures. The total amount of expenditures for SSI recipients reported by states who participate in the Optional Supplementation Program. The expenditures reflect previous year counts.

State Assistance for Special Needs

This assistance is for emergency or special conditions not covered by monthly SSI or optional state supplementary payments. Disaster benefits, burial expenses, additional subsidies for institutional care, and moving expenses are included in this category.

Administration. The governmental unit responsible for administering these payments is indicated.

Special needs circumstances. The special needs circumstances (recurring and nonrecurring) for which assistance can be approved are defined. Where available, eligibility requirements and payment limitations are described.


All states have federally assisted medical assistance (Medicaid) programs.


States may grant Medicaid eligibility to all SSI recipients or apply state guidelines in determining eligibility.

Either the SSI program guidelines or the state guidelines may be used to determine eligibility. State guidelines may not be more restrictive than the state's January 1972 medical assistance standards. The governmental unit responsible for determining eligibility is indicated.

Medically Needy Program

The presence or absence of a medically needy program for SSI-related populations is indicated. States can choose among no medically needy program, a restricted program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or a program for the TANF-related and one or more of the SSI-related categories (that is, aged, blind, or disabled). States determine eligibility for this program.

Unpaid Medical Expenses

Medicaid law requires states to pay covered medical expenses for up to 3 months prior to the Medicaid application, if the individual would have been eligible at the time. In many states the SSI application serves as the Medicaid application, and this entry indicates whether SSA has a contractual agreement with the state to inquire about the unpaid medical expenses of SSI claimants.

Summary Tables

Summary Table 1. Number of persons receiving optional state supplementation, by state and eligibility category, January 2009
State Total Aged Blind Disabled
Adults Children
Alabama a 238 78 4 156 b
Alaska a 16,232 4,943 78 11,211 c
Arizona d 266 -- -- -- c
Arkansas e . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
California 1,245,507 363,458 17,600 710,765 153,684
Colorado 23,392 18,800 -- 4,592 b
Connecticut f 15,329 4,618 89 10,622 . . .
Delaware g 689 35 10 575 69
District of Columbia g 1,415 103 8 1,201 103
Florida a 12,904 5,222 16 7,666 b
Georgia d, g 4,931 -- -- -- --
Hawaii 2,531 743 28 1,675 85
Idaho 13,840 2,245 33 10,202 1,360
Illinois 29,882 6,059 110 23,713 b
Indiana 4,243 1,100 10 3,133 c
Iowa 5,327 664 454 3,925 284
Kansas d 520 -- -- -- c
Kentucky 3,932 1,260 21 2,651 b
Louisiana 4,301 1,148 40 3,113 b
Maine d 42,313 -- -- -- --
Maryland d 3,172 -- -- -- c
Massachusetts 179,322 45,348 3,701 101,119 29,154
Michigan 231,647 16,791 1,234 176,872 36,750
Minnesota 38,940 11,801 271 26,868 b
Mississippi e . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Missouri d 8,303 -- -- -- --
Montana 1,001 35 11 769 186
Nebraska 5,437 1,031 54 4,352 b
Nevada h, i 9,623 9,031 469 . . . h
New Hampshire a 8,749 1,388 244 7,167 --
New Jersey 162,187 34,632 1,607 93,072 32,876
New Mexico 107 7 2 98 c
New York 628,952 129,309 2,427 391,756 105,460
North Carolina 23,784 11,722 79 11,983 c
North Dakota e . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ohio 1,796 482 -- 1,314 c
Oklahoma 64,817 10,801 338 43,840 9,838
Oregon 28,105 3,375 578 24,152 c
Pennsylvania 339,445 42,287 582 245,219 51,357
Rhode Island 30,499 3,605 153 20,681 6,060
South Carolina 4,834 2,068 8 2,758 b
South Dakota d 3,819 -- -- -- --
Tennessee e . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Texas 2,444 301 30 2,113 b
Utah 2,120 472 16 1,338 294
Vermont 13,938 1,019 56 10,149 2,714
Virginia 5,425 2,236 10 3,179 c
Washington 31,705 15,270 861 15,574 b
West Virginia e . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Wisconsin 108,596 9,327 977 71,462 26,830
Wyoming d 2,869 -- -- -- --
SOURCES: Social Security Administration, Supplemental Security Record, 100 percent data; information in the state summaries.
NOTE: -- = not available; . . . = not applicable.
a. Includes some grandfathered non-SSI recipients who meet state eligibility criteria, but do not meet federal eligibility guidelines.
b. A separate count for children is not available.
c. Children under 18 years old are not eligible for optional payment.
d. Data not available by eligibility category.
e. The state does not have an optional supplementation program.
f. Only blind children are eligible; a separate count is not available.
g. Benefits received under a child welfare program.
h. Includes 123 blind children.
i. Includes 100 recipients not distributed by eligibility category.
Summary Table 2. Selected features of state supplementation, by state, January 2009
State Administration of— Method of passalong Participation in interim assistance reimbursement program
Mandatory minimum supplementation Optional state supplementation
Alabama No recipients State Payment levels No
Alaska No recipients State Total expenditures Yes
Arizona State State Payment levels Yes
Arkansas Federal No program No program No
California Federal Federal Payment levels Yes
Colorado State State Total expenditures Yes
Connecticut No recipients State Payment levels Yes
Delaware Federal Federal/state Payment levels Yes
District of Columbia Federal Federal/state Total expenditures Yes
Florida No recipients State Payment levels Yes
Georgia Federal State Payment levels Yes
Hawaii No recipients Federal Total expenditures Yes
Idaho State State Payment levels No
Illinois State State Payment levels Yes
Indiana No recipients State Payment levels Yes
Iowa Federal Federal/state Payment levels Yes
Kansas Federal State Payment levels Yes
Kentucky No recipients State Payment levels Yes
Louisiana Federal State Payment levels No
Maine State State Payment levels Yes
Maryland Federal State Payment levels Yes
Massachusetts Federal Federal Payment levels Yes
Michigan Federal Federal/state Payment levels Yes
Minnesota No recipients State Payment levels Yes
Mississippi Federal No program No program No
Missouri State State Payment levels Yes
Montana Federal Federal Payment levels Yes
Nebraska State State Total expenditures Yes
Nevada No recipients Federal Payment levels Yes
New Hampshire State State Payment levels Yes
New Jersey Federal Federal Payment levels Yes
New Mexico State State Payment levels Yes
New York Federal Federal/state Payment levels Yes
North Carolina State State Payment levels Yes
North Dakota No recipients No program No program No
Ohio Federal State Payment levels Yes
Oklahoma State State Total expenditures No
Oregon No recipients State Total expenditures Yes
Pennsylvania Federal Federal/state Payment levels Yes
Rhode Island No recipients Federal Payment levels Yes
South Carolina No recipients State Payment levels No
South Dakota Federal State Payment levels No
Tennessee Federal No program No program Yes
Texas No recipients State Payment levels No
Utah No recipients Federal Payment levels Yes
Vermont No recipients Federal Payment levels Yes
Virginia No recipients State Payment levels Yes
Washington State State Total expenditures Yes
West Virginia No program No program No program No
Wisconsin No recipients State Total expenditures Yes
Wyoming State State Payment levels No
SOURCE: Based on information in the state summaries.
Summary Table 3. Selected features of medical programs affecting SSI recipients and the needy, by state, January 2009
State Medicaid eligibility Medically needy program SSA obtains information on unpaid medical expenses
Criteria Determined by—
Alabama Federal Federal No No
Alaska Federal State No No
Arizona Federal Federal Yes No
Arkansas Federal Federal Yes Yes
California Federal Federal Yes No
Colorado Federal Federal No Yes
Connecticut State State Yes No
Delaware Federal Federal No Yes
District of Columbia Federal Federal Yes Yes
Florida Federal Federal Yes No
Georgia Federal Federal Yes No
Hawaii State State Yes No
Idaho Federal State No No
Illinois State State Yes No
Indiana State State No No
Iowa Federal Federal Yes Yes
Kansas Federal State Yes No
Kentucky Federal Federal Yes Yes
Louisiana Federal Federal Yes Yes
Maine Federal Federal Yes Yes
Maryland Federal Federal Yes Yes
Massachusetts Federal Federal Yes Yes
Michigan Federal Federal Yes No
Minnesota State County Yes No
Mississippi Federal Federal No No
Missouri State State No No
Montana Federal Federal Yes No
Nebraska Federal State Yes No
Nevada Federal State No No
New Hampshire State State Yes No
New Jersey Federal Federal Yes Yes
New Mexico Federal Federal No No
New York Federal Federal Yes No
North Carolina Federal Federal Yes No
North Dakota State State Yes No
Ohio State State No No
Oklahoma State State No No
Oregon Federal State No No
Pennsylvania Federal Federal Yes Yes
Rhode Island Federal Federal Yes Yes
South Carolina Federal Federal No No
South Dakota Federal Federal No Yes
Tennessee Federal Federal Yes Yes
Texas Federal Federal Yes Yes
Utah Federal State Yes No
Vermont Federal Federal Yes No
Virginia State State Yes No
Washington Federal Federal Yes Yes
West Virginia Federal Federal Yes Yes
Wisconsin Federal Federal Yes No
Wyoming Federal Federal No Yes
SOURCE: Based on information in the state summaries.
Summary Table 4. State threshold amounts for disabled and blind individuals to maintain Medicaid eligibility under section 1619(b) of the Social Security Act, calendar year 2009
State Twice state supplementation a (dollars) Base amount b (dollars) State per capita Medicaid expenditure c (dollars) Threshold d
Amount (dollars) Rank
  Disabled individuals
Alabama 0 17,196 7,097 24,293 51
Alaska 8,688 25,884 27,924 53,808 1
Arizona 0 17,196 10,918 28,114 37
Arkansas 0 17,196 10,427 27,623 42
California 5,592 22,788 12,000 34,788 16
Colorado 600 17,796 12,405 30,201 30
Connecticut 4,032 21,228 32,309 53,537 2
Delaware 0 17,196 17,749 34,945 15
District of Columbia 0 17,196 23,263 40,459 6
Florida 0 17,196 10,879 28,075 39
Georgia 0 17,196 9,620 26,816 45
Hawaii 0 17,196 15,731 32,927 22
Idaho 768 17,964 18,262 36,226 13
Illinois 0 17,196 9,656 26,852 44
Indiana 0 17,196 15,419 32,615 23
Iowa 0 17,196 12,484 29,680 31
Kansas 0 17,196 16,937 34,133 18
Kentucky 0 17,196 8,994 26,190 47
Louisiana 0 17,196 10,458 27,564 40
Maine 240 17,436 24,851 42,287 5
Maryland 0 17,196 20,321 37,517 10
Massachusetts 2,745 19,941 17,816 37,757 9
Michigan 336 17,532 10,121 27,653 41
Minnesota 1,944 19,140 27,554 46,694 3
Mississippi 0 17,196 8,438 25,634 49
Missouri 0 17,196 13,681 30,877 26
Montana 0 17,196 11,486 28,682 36
Nebraska 120 17,316 18,114 35,430 14
Nevada 0 17,196 15,252 32,448 24
New Hampshire 960 18,156 21,726 39,882 7
New Jersey 750 17,946 16,338 34,284 17
New Mexico 0 17,196 16,337 33,533 19
New York 2,088 19,284 24,137 43,421 4
North Carolina 0 17,196 16,030 33,226 20
North Dakota 0 17,196 20,844 38,040 8
Ohio 0 17,196 15,998 33,194 21
Oklahoma 1,104 18,300 7,731 26,031 48
Oregon 41 17,237 11,813 29,050 33
Pennsylvania 658 17,854 10,845 28,699 35
Rhode Island 958 18,154 18,450 36,604 12
South Carolina 0 17,196 9,071 26,267 46
South Dakota 360 17,556 13,250 30,806 27
Tennessee 0 17,196 7,950 25,146 50
Texas 0 17,196 11,956 29,152 32
Utah 0 17,196 11,664 28,860 34
Vermont 1,249 18,445 18,561 37,006 11
Virginia 0 17,196 13,282 30,478 29
Washington 1,104 18,300 9,780 28,080 38
West Virginia 0 17,196 9,784 26,980 43
Wisconsin 2,011 19,207 12,949 32,156 25
Wyoming 600 17,796 12,696 30,492 28
  Blind individuals
California 7,152 24,348 12,000 36,348 2
Iowa 528 17,724 12,484 30,208 4
Massachusetts 3,594 20,790 17,470 38,260 1
Nevada 2,623 19,819 15,251 35,071 3
Oregon 641 17,837 11,813 29,650 5
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Program Operations Manual System (POMS), SI 02302.200, Charted Threshold Amounts.
a. Twice the annual state supplementation rate, if any, for an individual living independently.
b. The base amount is the annual amount of earned income it takes to reduce the annual SSI federal plus state benefit to zero. It is calculated as the sum of twice the state individual supplementation rate plus $17,196; $17,196 is the amount of earned income it takes in calendar year 2009 to reduce the annual federal benefit to zero, based on the monthly calculation ($85 plus twice the monthly federal benefit rate of $674) multiplied by 12.
c. Based on data from 2008.
d. The threshold is the sum of the base amount and the state per capita Medicaid expenditure.