AS NOTED EARLIER, the Aid to the Blind (AB), Aid to the Totally Disabled (ATD), and Old Age Assistance (OAA) programs were federalized and transferred to the Social Security Administration in 1974. A basic minimum for all grants has been established, and where states desire to supplement these grants, they make their payments via the Social Security disbursement system. Potential aid recipients apply to the local offices of the Social Security Administration, which processes them in the same manner as OASDI applicants. The only difference in procedure is that grants are based upon nationally established standards rather than on earned benefits. The amounts also differ in that the grant levels are smaller than Social Security annuities. Where a client is eligible for a small OASDI benefit or has other outside income, the Supplementary Security Income (SSI) program provides him or her with a supplementary monthly grant to bring the income up to SSI established levels.
The SSI program is public assistance in that a means test is used and the grant is subject to deduction of outside income. The administrative procedures introduced by the Social Security Administration, however, have eliminated much of the stigma of public assistance as well as many of the discretionary controls previously used by the local welfare systems. To all intents and purposes, the revised program has established a floor under the incomes for the aged, the blind, and the disabled. Although it is a public assistance program, it is operated as if it were social insurance. Much of the adverse publicity previously focused on all public assistance has been removed from these programs. The removal of these aid categories from the local welfare administrative scene and from the debate about welfare leaves only one category, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), in the center of public concern.
During fiscal 1977, the SSI program provided $5.3 billion to the aged, blind, or disabled clientele (Budget, p. 199). This total was over and above supplementation to the program provided by most of the states, which