Who is eligible for SSI Disability?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a disability program administered by the Social Security Administration, which is based upon need. Individuals who have not worked at all, or have not worked enough to qualify for Social Security Disability, or have a small Social Security Disability benefit amount may qualify for SSI, on the basis of need.

Of course, like many need-based programs, SSI has income and resource limitations. If you are under the monthly earned income and asset limits established by the Social Security Administration, then you may be able to file for disability under the Supplemental Security income disability program, a.k.a. SSI.

What are the income limits for SSI?

They can generally be classified in two separate ways: household or family income, and one's personal earned income. For SSI, as well as SSD, an individal must not be earning more than the current earned income limit, which is known as SGA, or substantial gainful activity.

The SGA limit is best thought of as an earnings cutoff limit. It is subject to annual change and to see the current limit, you may wish to visit this page: How much can you earn and still receive disability?.

The second type of income that may affect one's non-medical eligibility for SSI benefits is any income brought into the household by the applicant's spouse. Since SSI is a need-based program, a spouse's income may be partially counted, or "deemed", toward the total countable income of an SSI applicant. Whether or not a spouse's income may make an SSI applicant ineligible under the non-medical criteria can be determined by the social security office where the disability application is being filed.

What are the asset limits for an SSI applicant?

There is a limit of having $2000 in countable assets for a single person and a limit of $3000 in total countable assets for an SSI applicant if they are married. Countable assets generally include any real property (homes) other than one's residence and any vehicles other than one's primary transportation. Liquid assets such as money in bank accounts and the surrender value of insurance policies are generally considered to be among countable assets.

SSI disability is also available for children whose parents meet the income and resource limits. Children whose parent's income and assets (i.e. resources) do not exceed the specified limits will be granted monthly SSI benefits provided that they are determined to be disabled, either by a disability examiner or by a federal judge at a disability hearing (for information on the eligibility of children: How to apply for Social Security Disability benefits for children ).

How difficult is it to win SSI benefits if you are an adult or child? No more difficult than it would be to win benefits under the Social Security Disability program. As was stated, the requirements are identical for both programs.

To learn more about the process of determining eligibility for either SSD or SSI disability benefits, you may wish to visit one of these pages:

1) How does Social Security Decide if I am Disabled?

2) Proving Functional Limitations and why this is Important on a Disability Case.

One of the primary differences between SSD and SSI are that individuals who are approved for Social Security Disability are granted medicare benefits while individuals who are approved for SSI are granted medicaid.

Also, SSI benefits are capped, meaning that there is a maximum amount that an individual can receive and this amount is standardized for all recipients. SSD benefits, on the other hand, are based entirely on a claimant's past earning's record.

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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