Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits exist to help Americans in the direst financial need. Welfare programs are also designed to help the economically disadvantaged. Residents of any state who are in urgent need of financial assistance or who are disabled, elderly, or blind can apply for welfare benefits. It can be confusing to know whether you are entitled to SSI or welfare benefits, both, or none.
It may reassure you to know that you can receive both SSI and welfare benefits at the same time. Both programs help those in serious financial distress, and the difference between the two is often a matter of how urgently an individual needs help. Be mindful that state and local public assistance eligibility criteria for welfare benefits may be different than the criteria for SSI benefits through Social Security.
If you qualify for SSI benefits, you are automatically eligible for health care through Medicaid in most states. Other states require that you apply separately for Medicaid with a different agency, but you will likely still qualify for Medicaid coverage.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides low-income families with additional money to buy food, and SSI qualifications may qualify you for SNAP benefits. The SNAP program is what used to be known as food stamps, but SNAP benefits are now available through a pre-paid card similar to an ATM card with an account accessible online.
The SNAP program also provides information regarding which retailers participate. You may qualify for SNAP benefits if you have already qualified for SSI benefits, but keep in mind that any SSI benefits you receive will count in determining your SNAP eligibility. Helpfully, your application for SSI benefits is also an application for SNAP benefits in some states.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) provides block grants of cash to states for the states to determine who is eligible for benefits and in what amounts. Some states may require you to apply for SSI benefits if you are receiving TANF funds based on age, blindness, or disability; if you are approved for SSI benefits, the state and local public assistance payments may cease.
The specific welfare eligibility requirements vary from state to state, but each state has some kind of welfare program available to destitute residents. Check to see if you qualify for welfare benefits by checking with your state’s welfare agency, which is usually the state Department of Health and Human Services.
SSI, although extremely helpful, can take longer to process than an application for welfare benefits. Should you become disabled, apply for both SSI and welfare benefits as soon as possible if you require immediate financial assistance.