The Supplemental Security Income program recently celebrated its 40th anniversary of being signed into law by President Richard Nixon. To celebrate, we begin a three-part blog series covering the SSI benefits program.
Roughly eight million Americans currently receive SSI benefits. For the large majority of SSI beneficiaries, the monthly payments they receive provide the means necessary to afford a roof over their heads and food to eat. The SSI program was created to provide for the millions of severely disabled, elderly or blind individuals who were previously living in state-run institutions or on the street. While those opposed to federal subsidy programs like SSI argue they are costly and ineffective in helping individuals permanently better their lives, proponents of SSI argue the opposite.
During the last 40 years, SSI benefits have been championed with aiding millions of elderly, blind and disabled Americans live independently rather than in expensive tax-subsidized and state-run facilities. Likewise, recipients of SSI benefits are also often eligible for much-needed counseling, treatment and training programs.
One 54-year-old man who suffers from bipolar disorder, heralds the SSI program with saving his life. Previously homeless, the man slept on city streets and was subjected to numerous beatings. Since being granted SSI benefits, however, the man has been able to secure housing and attend treatment and counseling programs which he desperately needs.
Eligibility requirements for SSI benefits are strict and even individuals who qualify may have difficulty securing benefits. It's wise for individuals who believe they may be entitled to SSI benefits to contact a legal professional.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Happy Birthday, SSI: A Safety Net for Vulnerable Americans," Donna Meltzer, Oct. 30, 2012