Two major programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that are often confused with each other are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
While SSDI is based on the claimant’s earning history, SSI is a needs-based program for individuals who do not have sufficient work credits to qualify for SSDI.
Below, Gordon & Doner’s seasoned Social Security Disability lawyers explain the requirements for getting SSI benefits. If you are having difficulty getting your benefits approved, schedule a free, no obligation consultation to find out if we can assist you during the application or appeal process.
Basic SSI Requirements
SSI provides monthly financial benefits to support an applicant’s basic needs for food, clothing and shelter. An individual applying for SSI benefits must meet one of the following requirements for SSI benefits:
SSI benefits are available to individuals who are 65 or older.
Individuals can also apply for SSI benefits if they are considered legally blind. However, to apply for SSI benefits on the basis of blindness, the applicant must meet one of the following conditions:
- The applicant must have central vision of 20/200 or worse in the eye with better vision, even when he or she uses glasses or contacts
- The applicant has a visual field limitation in his or her eye with better vision, with the widest diameter of the applicant’s better eye’s visual field subtending an angle of 20 degrees or less.
Applicants who are under the age of 65 and not blind must be unable to work and have a medically determinable impairment that is terminal or is expected to last 12 months or more.
You must be able to show that you cannot perform any work that you performed in a previous occupation or in an occupation that is readily available in the current economy.
Children must have marked and severe functional limitations that are expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death.
To qualify for SSI benefits, you must also meet the technical requirements of the program. Some of the technical requirements include:
Because SSI benefits are only provided to individuals who cannot financially support themselves, claimants who earn enough income or have sufficient resources to pay for basic needs do not qualify.
Applicants must meet strict income requirements to receive SSI benefits. As of 2018, to qualify for SSI benefits, the monthly income you receive cannot exceed:
- $750 for eligible individuals
- $1,125 for eligible couples
- $376 for eligible essential persons
Not all forms of income are countable. However, income can mean more than money you earn from work. It also includes:
- Income you receive from other sources, such as unemployment benefits, Workers’ Compensation , and friends and family
- Free food and shelter
To qualify for SSI benefits, individual claimants must have less than $2,000 in assets while couples can jointly own $3,000 in countable resources.
Countable resources generally include anything of value except for your homestead property and one vehicle. Countable resources can include:
- Money in a checking or savings account
- IRAs and other retirement accounts
- Other vehicles
- Cash value in life insurance policies
- Real property including land
- Stocks and bonds
- Anything else you own that can be converted to pay for your basic needs
Additionally, you cannot dispose of assets within 36 months of applying for SSI in order to qualify for the program.
Legal Immigration Status
You must be a U.S. citizen or otherwise have legal immigration status by meeting one of the specific definitions provided by the SSA. You must not be subject to an active warrant for removal. You must be present in the U.S. and not leave for more than one month.
Additionally, you must reside in the United States, the District of Columbia or the Northern Mariana Islands to qualify.
Not Confined or Imprisoned
To qualify for SSI, you cannot be confined in an institution paid by the state, such as a hospital or prison.
Contact an Experienced Social Security Disability Lawyer
If you believe you qualify for SSI benefits and need help with your claim, contact the experienced Social Security Disability attorneys at Gordon & Doner.
We provide free consultations where we review the facts of your claim and inform you of the SSA’s claims process. We can help guide you through every steps of your claim.
All of our attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means we do not charge upfront for our services. We only collect legal fees if your claim is approved and you receive the benefits you deserve.
Call 1 (855) 722-2552 for qualified legal help with your claim.