How Can I Live If I Only Have SSI Income?

SSI provides monthly income for some elderly and disabled people.
SSI provides monthly income for some elderly and disabled people. (Image: elderly lady image by pixelcarpenter from

SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, provides a monthly income for people who cannot work due to a disability and if they meet certain income guidelines. SSI also provides benefits to people over the age of 65 even if they are not disabled if they meet income guidelines. SSI does not provide a lot of money, however. In January 2010, the maximum amount was $674 for a single person and $1,011 for a couple. Many people struggle to live on so little.

Make a budget and put it in writing. List all your expenses and add them up. If your expenses are greater than your income or if you just don’t have enough money for things you’d really like to have, look for ways to save money. If you need help making out a budget, look for social service agencies in your area that might help.

Practice frugal living. Use coupons, shop for things on sale or by used items when possible, keep your heat turned down as much as you can in the winter, cook your own meals at home instead of eating in restaurants, move to a less costly apartment if you can, drive a used car instead of a new one or take public transportation, and so on.

Apply for other forms of assistance as needed. If you qualify for SSI, you probably also qualify for food stamps and Medicaid. Many states have programs that help people with low incomes pay for things like housing and utilities. There are also food banks, programs that help pay for medical care not covered by Medicaid or Medicare, programs that provide vouchers for clothing and household goods and many other assistance programs. Programs vary from area to area.

Ask for help if you need it. If you need help making a budget, finding ways to save money, finding sources of assistance or applying for assistance, ask for help. If you qualify for SSI because you are over 65, contact your local council on aging or similar organization. If you qualify for SSI because you are disabled, look for a local organization for the disabled. You might also get help from the agency that administers food stamps and Medicaid in your state.

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