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SSI, Medicaid, Medicare: What’s the Difference?

SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, is a federal program that pays monthly benefits to people in financial need who are disabled, blind or 65 or older.  SSI is not just for adults.  Disabled and blind children, regardless of age, are also eligible.  It is financed from the general fund of the U.S. Treasury rather than from social security taxes.  Social security offices generally work with state agencies to determine eligibility.  To qualify for SSI, an applicant must be in financial need.  An applicant can have some assets and income and still qualify for SSI.  A single adult or a child may be eligible for SSI with assets of up to $2,000.00.  A couple may be eligible with assets of up to $3,000.00.

Medicaid also known as Title XIX, is a program of medical assistance to those in need of services they cannot afford.  Medicaid eligibility is limited to individuals who fall into specified categories.  Medicaid is a state administered program, and each state sets its own guidelines regarding eligibility and services.  Connecticut residents who are: 65 and over, receiving aid to families with dependent children, receiving state supplement benefits (SSI); who are between age 18-65 and disabled, are legally blind, are under 21 years of age, or pregnant, are eligible for Medicaid assistance.  The asset limit for a single person is $1,600.00.  The asset limit for a married couple is $2,400.00.  Not all assets are counted against this limit.  For example, home property is excluded.  Life insurance is excluded if the face value of all policies owned by the applicant is less than $1,500.00.  One motor vehicle is excluded in most cases.  An applicant can exclude up to $10,000.00 in an irrevocable funeral contract, and purchase a "burial plot" or place funds in a contract for a "burial plot."

Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people age 65 or older, people of any age with permanent kidney failure, and certain disabled people.  Medicare is divided into two parts - Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance for physician and surgeon charges in and out of a hospital).  Part A is generally available without charge to people 65 and over.  People who are not automatically eligible may pay a monthly premium for its coverage.  Part B is optional medical insurance for which everyone who wishes to be covered must pay a monthly premium.


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