How To Qualify For SSI and SSDI
The federal government estimates that 61 million people in this country have some type of physical or mental impairment that causes them to be disabled. If you are disabled and unable to work, two programs available through the Social Security Administration offer financial assistance provided you qualify for benefits.
Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI pays monthly benefits, but you must be “disabled” as defined by Social Security regulations and have worked a sufficient number of quarters at a job or through self-employment that was subject to Social Security payroll taxes. The other program, Supplemental Security Income or SSI, is similar in that you must be disabled to qualify for benefits. However, you do not need a work history to qualify for SSI as you do for SSDI, but you are subject to very strict limits on your income and the value of assets that you own.
Complicated regulations and procedures make it difficult to qualify for SSI and SSDI. In fact, according to data released by Social Security, only about a third of initial applications for benefits are approved. The following information along with the trusted advice and skilled representation of an SSDI and SSI lawyer from MJ Ellis Disability Law may improve your chances of success.
How to qualify for SSI
You may hear or read about SSI as being a “need-based” disability program because of its severe limits on the assets you own, which Social Security regulations refer to as resources and income from other sources that you may have available and still qualify for benefits. If you can meet the financial restrictions, SSI offers advantages over SSDI because it does not require that you have a record of earnings from jobs or self-employment and is available to children as well as adults.
Social Security limits the value of resources you may own to $2,000 and $3,000 for married couples. Resources include the following:
- Cash on hand.
- Bank accounts, savings bonds, and stocks.
- Real estate.
- Motor vehicles.
- Personal property.
- Other assets you own and could use to acquire food or a place to live.
The value of a motor vehicle that you or a member of your household uses exclusively for personal transportation and the value of a home you own and use as your principal residence do not count toward the resource limits. Other exclusions may also apply, but your New Jersey SSI lawyer will review those that apply with you as part of the application process.
The income you receive from employment or self-employment affects eligibility for SSI as does workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits. Determining whether something counts as income can be tricky. For example, Social Security includes the value of food or shelter given to you by a friend or relative as income, but it does not count it when the source is a non-profit agency. Your SSI attorney will ensure that other exclusions that may apply to income sources are taken into consideration when you apply for SSI benefits.
In addition to meeting the financial guidelines to qualify for SSI, you must be blind or disabled according to Social Security regulations. For instance, “disabled” for both SSI and SSDI means that you cannot work because of one or more medically determinable physical or mental impairments that prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful activity. The impairments cannot be short-term or temporary and must last or be expected to last for at least a year or be expected to cause death. A different definition applies to applications for SSI submitted on behalf of a disabled child.
How to qualify for SSDI
If you are disabled and have a record of earning income from self-employment or employment, you may qualify for SSDI. Depending upon your income and resources, you may qualify for both disability programs, but your SSDI attorney will review that with you to determine your eligibility.
An advantage of SSDI over SSI is that it is not based on need. It is based on your work history and the number of work credits accrued. Work credits are earned based on the amount of your yearly earnings from employment or self-employment. You receive one work credit for every $1,470 in earnings that you have in 2021. The earnings required for each work credit change each year. You may earn up to four credits each year.
Work credits needed to qualify for SSDI depend on the age when you become disabled. As a general rule, younger workers need fewer work credits than do older workers. Your SSDI lawyer will carefully review your work record because you not only need enough credits but some of them must be earned recently enough to satisfy eligibility guidelines.
Speak to a New Jersey Disability Lawyer
A New Jersey Disability Lawyer possesses the knowledge and skills developed through years of experience handling SSI and SSDI claims for benefits on behalf of people with disabling medical conditions. Whether filing an initial application for benefits or challenging a denied claim, a disability lawyer at MJ Ellis Disability can help to improve your chance of success.