The “federal benefit rate”, or FBR, is the maximum dollar figure paid to individuals that receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits under the Social Security Disability (SSD) program. FBR is also commonly called the SSI Standard Benefit Amount or the Federal Payment Standard. All of these terms refer to the same thing – the maximum amount of benefits that can be paid to a blind, aged or disabled individual through SSI. SSI is an additional cash benefit available for SSD recipients that have limited financial resources.
The federal benefit rate is currently $698 for an individual and $1,048 for a couple receiving SSI. While these are the 2012 figures for SSI benefits, the federal benefit rate is periodically adjusted according to the “cost of living” as calculated under the federal consumer price index.
The consumer price index tracks the cost of essential and common goods and services in order to determine increases in living expenses. Cost of living adjustments are made in response to findings from the consumer price indexing process.
When the cost of living adjustment goes into affect each year on January 1st, the federal benefit rate is adjusted accordingly. In other words, while the 2012 FBR is set, it may or may not increase in subsequent years based on the cost of living analyses utilizing the federal consumer price index.
Although the federal benefit rates listed above reflect the current dollar amounts, these figures represent the maximum benefit that may be available through SSI. Not every SSI recipient is entitled to the full federal benefit rate.
Income/assets, living arrangements, age and type of disability or impairment can affect the amount of SSI benefits you receive. SSI payments are slightly higher for blind beneficiaries, and individuals living alone may qualify for a different level of benefit than a disabled worker who lives with relatives and pays no rent, for example.