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The cost of caring for the nation’s neediest

December 18, 2012

Supplemental Security Income pays federal benefits to our neediest citizens. It’s been paying out more since the recession.


We’ve supplied numerous facts about Social Security and Medicare. Today the focus is Supplemental Security Income. SSI is administered by the Social Security Administration and is designed to be the “program of last resort” for the poor, blind and disabled – those who have limited means, little or no Social Security or other income.

The SSI recipient population was fairly steady until the recession hit. But it’s grown an average of 2.9 percent a year since 2008.

Over the last 10 years, the SSI program grew from 6.5 million recipients in 2002, averaging $404 a month in payments – to 7.9 million recipients in 2012, averaging $497 a month. At this rate program officials predict recipients will top 10 million by 2036.

Click through our photo gallery for more on SSI. See “What Do Others Say?” for more commentary. Then add to the discussion below. Would you want to make any changes to SSI? What role should the federal government play caring for the poorest of the poor?