There are medical and non-medical requirements for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The non-medical requirements are based on your work history and income. Generally, to be eligible for SSDI you need a certain amount of "work credits," which represent your work history and how much you paid into the social security program.
Non-Medical Qualifications for SSDI
SSDI is for disabled people who have earned enough work credits but do not earn enough in their new work. One work credit equates to each $1,300 made in 2016, but only four credits can be earned in a year. Having enough work credits is crucial to be eligible for SSDI. Your age determines the number of work credits required:
- Disabled before 24 years old: 6 credits three years before the disability
- Disabled between 24 and 30 years old: credits for half the amount of time since turning 21 years old to the age when disabled. If you are 26 and become disabled, 5 years have passed resulting in work credits required for 2.5 years which is 10 credits.
- Disabled at 31 years old or older: Minimum 20 work credits in 10 years before the disability began (5 years of the 10 years require work)
It is important not to earn what the SSA defines as "substantial gainful activity" or being profitable according to them. This amount is $1800 per month for non-blind disabled individuals or $1070 per month for blind disabled individuals. You will be ineligible for SSDI if you earn passed these amounts.
Non-Medical Qualifications for SSI
Unlike SSDI, SSI is need-based. It is for the blind, the disabled, or people who are 65 years old or older who have little income and require significant financial assistance. The income limit for singles was $733 and $1100 for couples in 2016.
Income for SSI recipients:
- Earned work wages
- Money received from other benefits or sources such as workers’ compensation, VA benefits, friends, relatives
- Free food or shelter
In 2016, the resource limit for individuals was $2000 and $3000 for couples.
- Personal property
- Life insurance
- Investment assets such as bank accounts and stocks
Contact an attorney for help determining your eligibility for SSI, proving entitlement to benefits based on non-medical and medical requirements, and appealing a denied application.