Qualifications for SSI/SSDI

Most people don’t realize that there are actually two different disability programs run by the US government that pay individuals who can no longer maintain gainful employment due to certain qualifications such as a medical or mental health condition. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) both provide financial assistance to disabled, eligible people. In fact, approximately 17 million people are currently receiving benefits under both programs.

Located in Florida, My.Attorney provides comprehensive legal services to disabled individuals and their families throughout the nation. Well-versed in the eligibility rules governing disability benefits, we can help you navigate the entire process, from determining the necessary qualifications, to preparing and submitting a benefits application, to an appeal, to a disability hearing, to final approval. When you consult our social security disability attorney, you will have peace of mind, knowing that dedicated advocates of the disabled are on your side.

Because the two programs have different purposes, they have different qualification requirements for each. SSI is meant to meet the basic needs of elderly, blind and disabled individuals who would otherwise have a difficult time paying for food and shelter. Because SSI is narrowly tailored for this particular set of people, it has a very strict set of financial requirements. SSDI, on the other hand, is more broadly available to any person who has paid into the Social Security system for at least ten years, regardless of current income and assets.

How do I qualify for SSI?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program that is strictly need-based, meaning it has nothing to do with work history but directly tied with financial need.

For SSI, you must meet each of the following qualifications:

  • Be at least age 65
  • or be blind
  • or disabled
  • Have limited income and resources
  • Be a citizen or a national of the U.S. or an alien who meets certain applicable requirements

Disability Qualifications

To meet the disability requirement, you must suffer from an eligible disability and the condition must interfere with basic work-related activities. While your condition may permit you to work part-time, it must be so severe that it keeps you from significant gainful activities. The condition must be one of the conditions recognized by the SSA or must be medically equivalent to another condition covered by the SSA. If so, you will likely be eligible for disability benefits.

Income Qualifications

The income requirements are particularly strict. The income limit for the SSI program is based on the federal benefit rate (FBR). In 2019, the FBR is $771 per month for individuals and $1,157 for couples. This amount can change every year, so it’s important to make sure you and your attorney know what it is when you apply.

To qualify, your countable monthly income cannot exceed $771/$1,157 a month. However, it gets complicated very quickly. The government only counts some of your income when it determines whether your income is over the income limit. For instance, if you are earning money from work, less than half of your monthly earnings are counted toward the income limit, so you can make more than $771 per month.

To make sure you know exactly how the requirements apply to your situation, you should contact our office for a review. We are well-versed in the eligibility rules governing disability benefits, we can help you navigate the entire process, from preparing and submitting a benefits application, to an appeal, to a disability hearing, to final approval. Don’t hesitate to contact us and set up an appointment if you want to know if you qualify for SSI.

What Is SSDI?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is funded through payroll taxes. This means that as you work, a portion of your earnings is taken through taxes to pay for disability coverage if you need it in the future. As a result, you need to have contributed to the system in order to qualify. The way the SSA handles this is through “work credits.” For every fiscal quarter that you work, you accrue work credits. Over your life, as you work, the work credits accumulate.

Work Credits

For every year that you work, you earn work credits with a maximum of 4 work credits per year. Every year the amount you need to earn for work credit changes. For 2019, if you earn $1360 in wages, you earn 1 work credit. After you exceed $5,440 for the entire year, you have earned the maximum of 4 work credits.

The team of attorneys affiliated with My.Attorney can give you specific guidance, but generally, if you have earned 40 work credits and if 20 of those credits were earned in the last 10 years, you are eligible for SSDI. If you have specific questions about your work credit history and if it means the necessary qualifications, please contact our office today and let us help you.

Determining your work credits and when they were accrued is complicated. Things change the older you get and figuring out how your work credits are determined can become overwhelming. You do not need to do it alone.

No Income Qualification Needed for SSDI

It is important to remember, SSDI has nothing to do with your income or assets. You are eligible if you have paid into the system and have the necessary work credits. Since it is not a need-based program, your wealth and income are not considered in qualifying for coverage.

You should also be aware that there is also a five-month waiting period for benefits, meaning that the SSA won’t pay you benefits for the first five months after you become disabled. The amount of the monthly benefit after the waiting period is over depends on your earnings record, much like the Social Security retirement benefit.

Contact Our Florida Social Security Disability Attorney

If you are trying to figure out if you have the necessary qualifications either program, please contact our office. We are dedicated to helping disabled individuals navigate the SSA system and obtain the benefits they deserve. We also provide ongoing counsel to make sure they maintain their eligibility for benefits. Knowing that developing a disabling medical condition is a life-altering experience, we will stand by you every step of the way. If you or a loved one needs assistance obtaining disability benefits, don’t go it alone. Download the My.Attorney app to arrange a free case evaluation or don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions that you might have by calling #4LAW or filling out the contact form.