Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Social Security Administration

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides income support to persons aged 65 or older, blind or disabled adults, and blind or disabled children. Eligibility requirements and federal payment standards are nationally uniform. Eligible individuals receive a monthly cash payment based on a statutory federal benefit rate. Since 1975, these rates have been increased by the same percentage as the cost-of-living increases in Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) benefits, and benefits are paid out of general tax revenue.

Agency Accountable Official: Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner

Total Payments
$56.8B
Improper Payments
$5B
Improper Payment Rate
8.85%

Supplemental Measures

Current Measure: 1,088,666

Target: 1,153,985

Description: By the end of FY 2018, increase the number of wage reports we process using SSI telephone wage reporting and SSI mobile wage reporting (using a smartphone application) by 6 percent over 1,088,666 the number in FY 2017.

Update Frequency: Monthly

Data Current as of: November 7, 2017

Current Measure: In FY 2017, SSA completed 2,589,638 SSI non-Medical redeterminations.

Target: 2,822,000

Description: By September 30, 2018, complete the budgeted amount of 2,822,000 SSI non-medical redeterminations.

Update Frequency: Monthly

Data Current as of: November 7, 2017


Program Comments

Supplemental Security Income is a complex program because eligibility and monthly payments are highly sensitive to fluctuations in monthly income, resources, and living arrangements. Improper payments often occur if recipients or their representative payees fail to timely report changes in any of these factors.

To determine payment accuracy, the Social Security Administration (SSA) samples program recipients to make certain they are being paid correctly. SSA uses a statistically valid sample to determine the program payment accuracy rates. From the sampled cases in fiscal year 2016 (which are reported on in fiscal year 2017), the program's projected overpayments were $4.3 billion, or 7.6 percent of benefits paid. The program strives to balance service delivery with integrity activities, which ensure that recipients continue to meet eligibility requirements. The programs projected underpayments totaled $0. 7 billion, representing 1.2 percent of payments in fiscal year 2016.

SSA aggressively pursues recovery of overpayments. The agency recovered $1.32 billion in SSI program debt in fiscal year 2017 and $6.17 billion over a 5-year period (2013-2017). The program uses a variety of debt collection tools, including internal agency processes and external techniques. SSA’s administrative cost to recover overpayments is $.07 for every $1 collected.

Payment accuracy reviews show that the leading causes of program overpayments are failure to inform SSA of the existence of financial accounts or increases in the balances in financial accounts and failure to inform SSA of the correct earnings amounts from work.

Payment errors due to financial accounts occur when bank accounts owned by the recipient or the recipient’s spouse or parent exceed the resource limit, and the recipient becomes ineligible for benefit payments. Financial account errors represented 22 percent of overpayment errors in fiscal year 2016. To improve payment accuracy in this area, SSA expanded the Access to Financial Institutions (AFI) initiative. AFI is an electronic process that verifies bank account balances with financial institutions.

Wage reporting errors occur when recipients, or representative payees, fail to provide accurate and timely reports of earnings information. This payment error category accounted for 22 percent of overpayment errors in fiscal year 2016. To address this category of payment error, SSA expanded its SSI Telephone Wage Reporting System (SSITWR), a designated toll-free number to submit wage reports, to encourage more timely and accurate wage reporting. Beginning in August 2013, SSA implemented the SSI Mobile Wage Reporting (SSIMWR) application nationally. SSIMWR is an extension of the SSITWR system, which provides SSI recipients the ability to submit their wages via their mobile smart phones. Additional information on the program is also provided annually in the Agency Financial Report located at https://www.ssa.gov/finance/.