State Assistance Programs for SSI Recipients, January 2011

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 Arizona, Nebraska, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia, all states 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, 2010, must pay $10.56 in administrative costs for each benefit paid. 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 2011 (unless otherwise stated) and are given in the table below.

Federal benefit rates, January 2011 (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 2011
State Total Aged Blind Disabled
Adults Children
Alabama a 166 48 3 115 --
Alaska a 17,630 5,096 75 12,459 b
Arizona c . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Arkansas c . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
California 1,257,811 356,636 16,842 718,457 165,876
Colorado d 28,932 -- -- -- --
Connecticut 10,348 2,769 56 7,523 e
Delaware f 657 35 12 535 75
District of Columbia f 1,417 105 7 1,212 93
Florida a 13,160 5,239 14 7,907 --
Georgia d 2,929 -- -- -- --
Hawaii 2,736 840 32 1,758 106
Idaho 14,251 2,104 78 10,884 1,185
Illinois 26,864 5,321 91 21,452 --
Indiana 3,442 797 6 2,639 b
Iowa h 5,281 594 453 3,927 307
Kansas d 7,481 -- -- -- b
Kentucky 3,974 1,146 21 2,807 --
Louisiana 4,539 1,115 33 3,391 --
Maine d 36,889 -- -- -- --
Maryland d 3,439 -- -- -- b
Massachusetts 193,725 47,107 3,640 108,978 34,000
Michigan 234,935 15,621 1,488 177,563 40,263
Minnesota 42,311 12,508 260 29,543 --
Mississippi c . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Missouri -- -- -- -- b
Montana 968 32 11 616 309
Nebraska a,g 5,437 1,031 54 4,352 --
Nevada h,i 10,707 10,018 444 . . . 126
New Hampshire a 10,239 1,403 236 8,600 --
New Jersey 166,130 33,495 731 96,535 35,369
New Mexico 57 3 1 53 b
New York 659,606 127,835 2,439 413,097 116,235
North Carolina 23,671 11,687 . . . 11,984 e
North Dakota c . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ohio j 1,475 403 -- -- b
Oklahoma 88,966 15,603 364 58,407 14,592
Oregon d 1,848 -- -- -- --
Pennsylvania 310,703 60,736 675 210,192 39,100
Rhode Island 31,086 3,503 150 21,097 6,336
South Carolina 3,913 1,503 9 2,401 --
South Dakota d 3,870 -- -- -- --
Tennessee c . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Texas 1,844 249 26 1,569 --
Utah 2,414 541 16 1,519 338
Vermont 15,152 1,024 53 11,105 2,970
Virginia 5,104 1,966 28 3,110 b
Washington 33,308 15,923 856 16,529 --
West Virginia c . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Wisconsin 112,439 7,863 915 73,101 30,560
Wyoming d 3,176 -- -- -- --
SOURCES: Social Security Administration, Supplemental Security Record, 100 percent data; information in the state summaries.
NOTES: -- = not available; . . . = not applicable.
a. Includes some grandfathered non-SSI recipients who meet state eligibility criteria, but do not meet federal eligibility guidelines.
b. Children under 18 years old are not eligible for optional payment.
c. The state does not have an optional supplementation program.
d. Data not available by eligibility category.
e. Only blind children under 18 are eligible; a separate count is not available.
f. Benefits received under a child welfare program.
g. Data reflect 2009 reporting.
h. Only disabled children living with a dependent relative are eligible for payments.
i. Includes 119 recipients not distributed by eligibility category.
j. Includes 1,072 recipients not distributed by living arrangement and eligibility category.
Summary Table 2. Selected features of state supplementation, by state, January 2011
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 No program No program 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 Payment levels Yes
Florida No recipients State Payment levels Yes
Georgia Federal State Payment levels Yes
Hawaii No recipients Federal Payment levels 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 No
Pennsylvania Federal Federal/state Payment levels Yes
Rhode Island No recipients Federal/state 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 2011
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/State Federal/State 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 2011
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 7,242 24,438 51
Alaska 8,688 25,884 25,641 51,525 2
Arizona 0 17,196 13,674 30,870 31
Arkansas 0 17,196 11,534 28,730 35
California 4,104 21,300 13,723 35,023 17
Colorado 600 17,796 14,194 31,990 27
Connecticut 4,032 21,228 35,274 56,502 1
Delaware 0 17,196 21,472 38,668 7
District of Columbia 0 17,196 25,841 43,037 5
Florida 0 17,196 11,557 28,753 34
Georgia 0 17,196 10,313 27,509 45
Hawaii 0 17,196 19,781 36,977 11
Idaho 1,272 18,468 20,027 38,495 9
Illinois 0 17,196 8,945 26,141 49
Indiana 0 17,196 17,517 34,713 18
Iowa 0 17,196 13,615 30,811 32
Kansas 0 17,196 16,875 34,071 19
Kentucky 0 17,196 10,149 27,345 46
Louisiana 0 17,196 12,567 29,763 39
Maine 240 17,436 14,967 32,403 26
Maryland 0 17,196 21,464 38,660 8
Massachusetts 2,745 19,941 16,450 36,391 13
Michigan 336 17,532 11,504 29,036 44
Minnesota 1,944 19,140 30,410 49,550 2
Mississippi 0 17,196 8,727 25,923 50
Missouri 0 17,196 13,984 31,180 30
Montana 0 17,196 12,233 29,429 40
Nebraska 120 17,316 18,982 36,298 15
Nevada 0 17,196 12,939 30,135 33
New Hampshire 984 18,180 22,540 40,720 6
New Jersey 750 17,946 15,541 33,487 23
New Mexico 0 17,196 19,225 36,421 12
New York 2,088 19,284 26,170 45,454 4
North Carolina 0 17,196 16,372 33,568 22
North Dakota 0 17,196 20,853 38,049 10
Ohio 0 17,196 16,817 34,013 20
Oklahoma 1,008 18,204 8,276 26,480 48
Oregon 0 17,196 14,266 31,462 29
Pennsylvania 658 17,854 11,556 29,410 41
Rhode Island 958 18,154 18,170 36,324 14
South Carolina 0 17,196 10,945 28,141 38
South Dakota 360 17,556 15,435 32,991 24
Tennessee 0 17,196 9,449 26,645 47
Texas 0 17,196 12,133 29,329 42
Utah 0 17,196 11,980 29,176 43
Vermont 1,249 18,445 17,109 35,554 16
Virginia 0 17,196 15,349 32,545 25
Washington 1,104 18,300 9,860 28,160 37
West Virginia 0 17,196 11,087 28,283 36
Wisconsin 2,011 19,207 12,261 31,468 28
Wyoming 600 17,796 16,059 33,855 21
Blind individuals
California 5,616 22,812 12,904 35,716 2
Iowa 528 17,724 13,615 31,339 5
Massachusetts 3,594 20,790 16,450 37,240 1
Nevada 2,623 19,819 12,940 32,759 3
Oregon 0 17,196 14,266 31,462 4
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 2011 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 2010.
d. The threshold is the sum of the base amount and the state per capita Medicaid expenditure.