What are the Application Requirements For SSI Disability?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is one of two disability programs administered by the SSA (social security administration). Both SSD and SSI require the claimant to prove, through medical records, that he has a severe mental or physical impairment that is not expected to improve over a period of 12 months or more, which prevents him from engaging in substantial gainful activity (earning a certain amount each month: the SGA, or substantial gainful activity limit).

However, unlike SSD benefits, the SSI program requires applicants to also prove financial need. Even if an applicant is judged to be severely impaired and unable to work, he cannot collect SSI unless his total assets are valued at no more than $2,000 ($3,000 for a couple).

In determining the total value of an applicant's assets, Social Security includes anything of value, including stocks, bonds, retirement accounts, land, jewelry, surrender value of insurance policies, etc. However, your residence and one car (the car of highest value) are excluded from this calculation.

If you are applying for SSI, your first step is to fill out an application for disability and submit it, along with your medical and work histories, to your local Social Security office. Assuming your medical records indicate that you have a disabling physical or mental condition which prevents you from working, you could be eligible for SSI provided you meet the income and resource requirements.

SSI disability applicants must all undergo an end line interview with Social Security to determine if they still qualify for SSI, even after a disability examiner has approved their claim on the basis of a medical condition.

At this interview, Social Security will ask if anything has changed in the individual's financial picture, including his or her living arrangements (Social Security takes into account how much a person must contribute to household expenses before deciding his or her monthly SSI benefit.)

SSI requirements, unlike SSD requirements, focus not only on the applicant's medical condition but on his or her financial need. If you do not meet the financial requirements for SSI, your disability application will either be denied at the outset (it won't even make it to a disability examiner's desk for consideration) or at the end line interview, regardless of the severity of your impairment.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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