If you are over 65, are blind, or have a disability, you may be eligible to receive benefits through the Massachusetts State Supplement Program (SSP).
SSP helps qualified residents pay for basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter. You can find out more about the program, your eligibility, and how to apply with information from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA).
How Does SSP Differ from Other Benefit Programs?
SSP is one of three similar benefit programs available to Massachusetts residents:
- Social Security — Social Security is a federal program funded by wages and employer contributions. The amount you receive through Social Security depends on how much you’ve earned during your working years. Receiving Social Security does not necessarily qualify you for other benefit programs, but it may not disqualify you either.
- Supplemental Security Income — Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is another federal program run by SSA. However, SSI differs from Social Security in a few important ways. Unlike Social Security, SSI eligibility is based on financial need, with set limits on personal income. Recipients don’t need to pay into SSI in order to receive benefits. SSI is also available to children who are blind or have a disability.
- State Supplement Program — SSP is a state program that provides additional support to Massachusetts residents. Like SSI, eligibility is based on financial need. However, you may qualify for SSP even if your income is too high for SSI.
Am I Eligible for SSP?
Whether or not you qualify for SSP is based largely on SSI eligibility. Before you apply, make sure you meet SSP requirements:
- You must have turned 65, be blind, or have a disability.
- You must have limited income and limited resources.
- You must be a resident of the state of Massachusetts.
- You must not be living in an institution — such as a hospital or prison — at the government’s expense.
- You must apply for any other benefits or payments you’re eligible for, such as pensions and Social Security.
For more information about your personal eligibility, you can:
- Use the online Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool (BEST) to determine which SSA programs may be available to you.
- Call SSA toll-free at (800) 772-1213 — TTY (800) 325-0778. Representatives are available Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Call SSP customer service at (877) 863-1128, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. People who are deaf or hard of hearing can get communication assistance through MassRelay.
How Do I Apply for SSP?
You must apply for SSI benefits to receive SSP. If you do not qualify for SSI, but are eligible for SSP, the Social Security Administration will automatically pass along your information to the Commonwealth. Applications for SSI can be completed in person at your local Social Security office or over the phone with an SSA representative. Use the online Social Security office locator to find a branch near you.
Whether you’re planning to apply in person or over the phone, it is recommended that you schedule an appointment. You can:
- Make an Appointment Yourself — Call SSA at (800) 772-1213 — TTY (800) 325-0778 — to schedule a meeting with an SSA representative.
- Get Assistance — SSA provides a guide on how someone can help you with your SSI. You can have someone else call to make the appointment for you and help you with the application itself.
How Do I Receive and Manage SSP Payments?
SSP payments come directly from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. If you qualify for both SSI and SSP, your payments will come separately. Newly registered SSI recipients are required to sign up for direct deposit.
People who need help managing their finances can choose to have someone receive and handle their payments, called a designated payee. How you assign a representative depends on whether you are enrolled in both programs or just SSP:
- If You Receive SSI and SSP — Appoint a representative payee through SSA online.
- If You Only Receive SSP — Call SSP customer service at (877) 863-1128.
If you have questions or concerns about your eligibility or benefits, contact SSP customer service. Representatives are available from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tags: benefit programs, benefits, entitlement programs, individuals with disabilities, Massachusetts entitlement programs, massachusetts state supplement program, seniors, social security, social security administration, social security disability, social security income, state supplement program
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