What are the Requirements for Social Security Disability and SSI?

To be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits or SSI disability benefits, you must first meet certain non-disability eligibility requirements. These must be met before your disability claim can even move out of the social security office where you file your claim to the disability determination services agency where the claim is assigned to a disability examiner (who will obtain your records and evaluate your claim).

Non-Medical Requirements for SSI, or Supplemental Security Income

For SSI disability, this means two things. First, that you cannot be working and earning more than the current income limit for what the social security administation refers to as substantial gainful activity (this amount is subject to change each year but the current limit can be found here: SGA). Second, it also means that you cannot have more than a certain amount in assets a.k.a. resources. For SSI, the asset-resource limit is two thousand dollars for a single individual and three thousand dollars for a married couple.

SSI is concerned with how much a person has in assets because SSI is a program based on "need". You cannot get SSI disability unless you are disabled, of course, but the first very requirement to even being considered for SSI is that you be in financial need and also that you have not worked enough to be insured for title II benefits, which are otherwise known as Social Security Disability benefits.

Non-Medical Requirements for SSD, or Social Security Disability

Unlike SSI, Social Security Disability does not have an asset limit requirement. This is because SSI is not based on need; rather, it is a benefit that is earned through work activity. By working enough "work quarters", a person gains credits that count toward being insured for title II Social Security Disability benefits. Just like SSI, though, you cannot receive Social Security Disability benefits if you are working and earning at least the current amount for substantial gainful activity. As with SSI, the reasoning is that if you are able to work and earn what social security considers to be a substantial and gainful income, then you are not disabled.

Additional information:

What are the Assets that count for SSI Disability?

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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