Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Frequently Asked Questions

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) helps people with low income and limited resources who also have a disability, are blind, or are over 65. If you qualify, SSI gives you a monthly cash payment to help pay for basic needs, and you also get Health First Colorado (Medicaid) health coverage. A single person can get up to $794 per month in benefits. Learn more about SSI.

Both programs are run by the Social Security Administration (SSA), and some people get both SSI and SSDI at the same time. If you get benefits from Social Security, but aren’t sure which ones you get, open a free my Social Security account or order a free Benefits Planning Query (BPQY) at your local Social Security office or by calling 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY).

If you have questions about SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and need to talk with somebody, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY) or visit your local Social Security office.

If you want to ask about how work might affect your SSI benefits, try contacting:

Even if you have never had a job you can get cash benefits from Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as long as you have low income and limited resources, and also have a disability, are blind, or are over 65. SSI gives you monthly cash payments to help pay for basic needs. A single person can get up to $794 per month in SSI benefits. Learn more about SSI.

For your disability to meet the Social Security adult disability standards:

  • You must be able to show medical reports that confirm that you have a severe physical or mental disability.
  • The disability must be life-threatening or have lasted or be expected to last at least a year.
  • The disability must prevent you from doing Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) for at least a year.

Learn more about how Social Security decides whether you have a disability.

To get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) monthly benefits, you cannot have more than $2,000 in resources ($3,000 for couples). Resources include money you have and property you own. The home you live in and one vehicle are not included in those limits. Certain other resources are also not included.

If your disability began before you turned 26, you can open an ABLE account where over time you can save up to $100,000 in resources and not have them counted by SSI. Learn more about ABLE accounts.

You can apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI):

  • Online
  • By calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY) to make an appointment to apply either:

Note: If you are approved, you get SSI benefits for the entire time since the date you applied, so apply as soon as possible. If you don’t have everything ready for your application, you can still apply and send any missing information as soon as possible.

Note: Due to COVID-19, there may be limits on in-person services. Contact your agency by phone to ask about this.

The SSI application process can take four months or longer. If you’re approved, Social Security will pay you for benefits going all the way back to the date you applied. That’s why it is important to apply as soon as you can.

Yes. Your county human services department may be able to help you get SNAP (formerly Food Stamps), Health First Colorado (Medicaid) health coverage, Colorado Works, and emergency cash and housing assistance, if you need them. You can also apply for these programs online through the Colorado PEAK website.

And while you wait to find out if your application for SSI is accepted (it can take months), you might get a temporary cash beneft from Colorado's Aid to the Needed Disabled - State Only (AND-SO) program of up to $217 a month. (When your SSI starts, some of your retroactive SSI benefits will automatically be used to pay back the AND-SO program.) For more details, contact your local county human services department.

Yes. If you feel that Social Security’s decision is incorrect, you can appeal:

  • File your appeal quickly. After you get a denial letter, you have 60 days to file an appeal. If you don’t appeal within 60 days, you may not be able to appeal.
  • You can file your appeal online or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY) and ask them to send you an SSI appeal form. If you file online, you need to mail or deliver any new information about your situation to Social Security.
  • You have the right to have a lawyer or other qualified person (who is familiar with you and with the SSI program) represent you during the appeal process. Or you may choose to deal with it yourself.

Note: If your application for SSI benefits is denied and you disagree with the decision, file an appeal. Do not just fill out the application forms again — that would be refiling. If you appeal and win, your benefits will be paid back to your original application date. If you refile, Social Security will start all over and you will not get any past benefits you might have gotten.

Learn more about appeals.

To find a lawyer or other representative who can help with your appeal, contact Disability Law Colorado (DLC) or the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives (NOSSCR).

You can keep getting Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits as long as you have a disability and meet the income, resource, and other requirements.

From time to time, Social Security checks to make sure you still qualify. A medical Continuing Disability Review (CDR) checks if you are still medically disabled. A redetermination looks at your income, resources, and living arrangements.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will look at your income when they decide whether you qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and, if so, how much you should get in SSI benefits.

Your sources of income can include:

When they look at your income, Social Security will calculate that you should be spending some of it on your basic needs. The part of your monthly income that SSI expects you to spend on basic needs is called your countable income. The more countable income you have, the less you get in SSI benefits.

Social Security doesn’t count all of your income. For example, they will only count half or less of your earned income. That means that you could be earning quite a bit and still have countable income below the limit.

The bottom line: You usually end up with more money if you work while you are getting SSI benefits.

Learn more about how Social Security counts your income.

If you live in a medical facility, such as a hospital or nursing home, you probably can’t get full Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits:

  • If Health First Colorado (Medicaid) pays for more than half the cost of your care in the facility, the most you can get in SSI benefits is $30 per month. You might also get up to $83 a month through the Colorado Personal Needs Allowance (PNA). To learn more about PNA, contact your local county human services department.
  • If Health First Colorado (Medicaid) does not pay for more than half of your care in the facility, you cannot get any SSI benefits.
  • If your doctor says you will be in the facility for less than 90 days and you can show that you need your SSI benefits to keep your home or living arrangement, you may continue to get your full SSI benefits.
    • Note: If you’re expecting to stay for less than 90 days, you need to get the doctor’s note and documentation about your need to Social Security right away. The facility’s admissions office can help you.

If your earned income, unearned income, marital status, or living arrangements change, even slightly, you must report the change twice:

  • To your local county human services department within 10 days of when the change happens.
  • To Social Security at the start of the month after the change. You can report:
    • In person, by phone, or by fax during the first 10 days of the next month.
    • Using the SSI Telephone Reporting System, the SSI reporting app, or my Social Security during the first 6 days of the next month.

Note: Due to COVID-19, there may be limits on in-person services. Contact your agency by phone to ask about this.

Ways to report your income to Social Security

For SSI, you can report changes:

When you report, you’ll need to have documentation, such as a letter explaining any changes and copies of your paystubs. If you have questions about the best way to report your earnings, talk to your local Social Security office or talk to a certified benefits counselor.

Note: If you also get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you must report your income separately for SSI and SSDI. Ask your Social Security claims representative how you should report income for SSDI.

If you think an SSI overpayment wasn’t your fault and you can’t pay it back because you need the money to pay for living expenses, you can ask for a waiver of the overpayment. To get the waiver form, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY) and ask for Form SSA-632. If the waiver is granted, you won’t have to repay the overpayment.

If you think the amount of your overpayment is incorrect or that you do not have any overpayment, you have the right to appeal. If you appeal within 10 days of the date the notice was sent, your benefits may continue until Social Security decides on the appeal. Learn more about appeals.

To find a lawyer or other representative who can help with your appeal, contact Disability Law Colorado (DLC) or the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives (NOSSCR).

Roughly speaking, for every dollar you earn at work, your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits amount only goes down by fifty cents. That’s why most people on SSI who go back to work end up better off. Learn more about how Social Security counts your earned income.

If you get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, you automatically qualify for Health First Colorado (Medicaid) health coverage. If you go back to work, you can usually keep Health First Colorado (Medicaid) even if your earnings cause your SSI benefits amount to go down to zero.

Depending on your income and resource levels, Health First Colorado (Medicaid) coverage can continue either through SSI’s 1619(b) rule or through Health First Colorado Buy-In Program For Working Adults With Disabilities (Medicaid Adult Buy-In).

If you lose your Health First Colorado (Medicaid) coverage, there should be another health coverage option you can get, such as employer-sponsored coverage or private individual coverage. And, if you can’t afford the individual coverage, the government may help you pay for it through tax credits.

The bottom line: There is a coverage option for almost everybody. Do not worry that getting a job will leave you without health coverage.

Try DB101's Finding the Right Health Coverage for You interactive guide.

If you stop getting Supplemental Security Income (SSI) because you have a job, but then you lose your job and your income goes down, you may not have to reapply for SSI benefits.

If it has been less than 12 months since your last SSI payment, you can get your SSI benefits started up again by reporting to your local Social Security office that you are no longer working.

If it’s been more than 12 months, you can ask for Expedited Reinstatement (EXR) if:

  • Your SSI benefits amount went down to zero because of your income
  • You can’t work at the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level because of your disability
  • Your current medical impairment is the same as the one that originally made you eligible for SSI, and
  • You stopped getting SSI benefits less than five years ago.

If you get EXR, you can get up to six months of temporary SSI benefits while Social Security checks to make sure you still qualify for the program.

Learn more