Will I qualify for SSI if my husband and I get SSD?

"I have a question about SSI for me. My husband getting 1600.00 in SSD and I am getting 243.00 in SSD. Will I qualify for SSI?"

Answer: If you and your husband have no minor children in your household, you will not qualify for SSI because your husband's SSD and your SSD benefits put you over the couple's income limits. It is important to remember that SSI is a need-based disability program and, as such, it has income and resource limits much like other need-based programs such as Medicaid and food stamps.

Having said that, let me point out again for those who are interested in the basic question of qualifying for SSI that, as far as the medical evaluation of a claim is concerned, SSI cases are handled no differently than SSD (Social Security Disability) cases. Repeat: there is no difference.

Meaning that--

A) cases are started at local social security offices,

B) they are then sent to state-level processing agencies (usually known as DDS or disability determination services, but are sometimes known as the Bureau of Disability Determination, or the Disability Determination Division) where they are assigned to disability examiners,

C) medical records from the claimant's listed medical treatment sources are requested, and both the claimant's medical records and work history are evaluated to determine whether the claimant is capable of returning to work in some fashion or...should be approved for disability.

If SSI and SSD are handled the same way by disability claim decision-makers, then what are the things that distinguish the two programs?

Basically the concept of funding mechanisms. SSD and your eligibility to receive SSD disability benefits is based on whether or not you attained coverage as a result of paying enough into the system through FICA tax deductions or FICA tax payments if you are self-employed.

If you are not covered for SSD (insured), then your disability application will be taken in the SSI program. However, as SSI is need-based, you cannot be evaluated medically for this program if you do not meet certain non-medical criteria, the most apparent of which is a limit on the amount of assets you can have. That limit for individuals is currently $2000 in countable asets, and $3000 for couples.

Should you be concerned about whether your claim is for SSD, SSI or both programs (known as a concurrent claim)? No. If you consider yourself disabled and unable to work, you should file for disability. The social security office will determine which program an application for disability benefits can be taken in. And as was said, once the disability application is successfully taken and transmitted to a disability examiner for case processing, it makes, in a practical sense, no difference which program the claim is taken in. Both SSD and SSI claims undergo the same type of medical evaluation.

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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