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:
- State supplementation (mandatory and optional) of federal Supplemental Security Income payments,
- State assistance for special needs, and
To facilitate comparisons across states, a separate section includes four tables that summarize:
- The number of persons receiving optional supplementation,
- Selected features of state supplementation programs,
- Selected features of medical programs affecting SSI recipients and the needy, and
- State threshold amounts for blind and disabled individuals to maintain Medicaid eligibility under section 1619(b) of the Social Security Act.
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.
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):
- The house an individual lives in;
- A car, if it is used to provide necessary transportation;
- Household goods (if needed for maintenance, use, and occupancy of the home) and personal effects;
- Life insurance policies with a total face value of $1,500 or less per person;
- Burial plots or spaces for the individual or his or her immediate family;
- A burial fund of up to $1,500 each for the burial expenses of the individual and his or her spouse; and
- Property essential to self-support, including property used in a trade or business or on the job if the individual works for someone else.
- States with state-administered supplementation can establish their own resource limitations and exclusions for optional state supplementary payments.
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:
- The state has an agreement with SSA to participate in the IAR program;
- The individual has given SSA written authorization to have his or her retroactive payment sent to the state as reimbursement; and
- The individual is found eligible for SSI payments or has had his or her benefits reinstated for the same period of suspension or termination.
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.
|Living arrangements||Individual||Couple||Essential person a|
|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:
- Live in their own household whether or not they are receiving in-kind support and maintenance;
- Live in a foster or family care situation;
- Have no permanent living arrangement (for example, a transient);
- Live in an institution (except inmates of public institutions) for all or part of a month, provided that Medicaid does not pay more than 50 percent of the cost of their care; or
- Live alone with a child, spouse, or persons whose income may be deemed to the eligible person.
It also includes eligible persons for whom Codes B, C, and D do not apply.
Federal Code B. Includes eligible persons who:
- Live in a household other than their own throughout a month with at least one other person who is not their child, their spouse, or an ineligible person whose income is deemed to them; and
- Receive food and shelter from within that household.
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.
|Arizona c||. . .||. . .||. . .||. . .||. . .|
|Arkansas c||. . .||. . .||. . .||. . .||. . .|
|District of Columbia f||1,417||105||7||1,212||93|
|Mississippi c||. . .||. . .||. . .||. . .||. . .|
|Nevada h,i||10,707||10,018||444||. . .||126|
|New Hampshire a||10,239||1,403||236||8,600||--|
|North Carolina||23,671||11,687||. . .||11,984||e|
|North Dakota c||. . .||. . .||. . .||. . .||. . .|
|South Dakota d||3,870||--||--||--||--|
|Tennessee c||. . .||. . .||. . .||. . .||. . .|
|West Virginia c||. . .||. . .||. . .||. . .||. . .|
|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.|
|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|
|Connecticut||No recipients||State||Payment levels||Yes|
|District of Columbia||Federal||Federal/state||Payment levels||Yes|
|Florida||No recipients||State||Payment levels||Yes|
|Hawaii||No recipients||Federal||Payment levels||Yes|
|Indiana||No recipients||State||Payment levels||Yes|
|Kentucky||No recipients||State||Payment levels||Yes|
|Minnesota||No recipients||State||Payment levels||Yes|
|Mississippi||Federal||No program||No program||No|
|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|
|Oregon||No recipients||State||Total expenditures||No|
|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|
|West Virginia||No program||No program||No program||No|
|Wisconsin||No recipients||State||Total expenditures||Yes|
|SOURCE: Based on information in the state summaries.|
|State||Medicaid eligibility||Medically needy program||SSA obtains information on unpaid medical expenses|
|District of Columbia||Federal||Federal||Yes||Yes|
|SOURCE: Based on information in the state summaries.|
|State||Twice state supplementation a (dollars)||Base amount b (dollars)||State per capita Medicaid expenditure c (dollars)||Threshold d|
|District of Columbia||0||17,196||25,841||43,037||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 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.|