List of Guidelines for the SSI Disability Program

SSI Disability is a government funded program that pays money to individuals who can no longer work because of a disability, but are too young to collect social security retirement benefits. Not everyone who applies is eligible to receive benefits, and even those who are eligible may be denied at least once before they are approved.

Qualifying for SSI Disability

There are a few requirements before you can qualify for benefits. First, applicants must have a certain number of credits to show the length of time worked. The credits must be received within a certain period of time prior to applying before they will count. Every year, the wages earned to count as a credit changes, and up to 4 credits can be earned every year. Most people need at least 40 credits, half of which were accumulated within the last decade, but if there is not a full 10 years of work history due to age, those applicants may be able to qualify with less. The jobs worked must qualify under the program. If the applicant did not work long enough or did not pay taxes into the Social Security program, he or she cannot qualify for disability benefits.

Applicants must meet the definition of "disabled" which means they cannot do the same work they did before as a result of the disability, cannot switch to other fields and kinds of work as a result of the disability, and the disability is expected to last more than 12 months or cause death. The government decides whether or not the applicant can be "adjusted to other work." Benefits are not payable for short term disability. The department determines disability with a list of conditions, along with considerations about how much work applicants are doing now and how much work they have done in the recent past. Expect medical records and job history to be thoroughly scrutinized during the application process.

Applying for SSI Disability

Applications can be processed online, by phone, and in person at the local Social Security Administration. With the application, you should provide the following:

  • Proof of identification,
  • age,
  • medical records,
  • names and dates of doctors and recent visits,
  • lab tests and their results,
  • information about the place and nature of employment,
  • proof of income (either W2 or federal tax returns)
  • And any information for family members who may also be eligible to receive benefits if the applicant is approved.

Expect to wait three to five months from the date of application to get a response.

Getting Benefits

Unless the recipient's health improves, he or she will likely receive benefits until retirement age is reached, at which point the benefits will change to SSI retirement, though the amount will not change. Should the condition improve or recipient decides he or she would like to return to the workforce instead of relying on disability, benefits will either decrease or stop depending on the situation. If the recipient earns more than $980 a month in 2009, he or she will be no longer considered disabled. Family members such as a spouse, children, divorced spouse and divorced children may be eligible to receive a portion of benefits.

How much income can you have for SSI disability for children?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability payments are commonly used to provide assistance for people with disabilities, low-income individuals or the elderly. If your child under 18 is disabled, he or she may qualify. The income this child receives from SSI will be set at the state level and depend on the child's resources and income, on the resources of family members and on other state regulations. In general, a child must not be working and earning more than $1,000 a month in 2010. Parental and familial income limits vary based on the number of disabled children in the household. In 2010, with 1 disabled child per one parent, the limit is $2,821 per month; the limit with two parents increases to $3,495 per month.


Can you get turned down for SSI disability if your spouse makes too much?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability is designed to assist low-income, disabled or elderly individuals meet the financial demands of day-to-day life. Those demands relate directly to your household income, and your income will affect the level of your benefits as a result. The amount you receive through the SSI program if you qualify is set by your state. The state calculates this amount based on the level of your need and your income. In a household where your spouse is still able to work, the total household income is placed into this formula to determine benefits:

SSI federal income benefit rate MINUS your countable income EQUALS your SSI federal income benefit.

Can I legally sign up for SSI disability while drawing worker's compensation?

You are permitted to receive SSI disability benefits while receiving worker's compensation. However, the amount you will be eligible to receive will depend on your total income outside of SSI benefits. For example, if you receive $300 monthly from your worker's compensation plan, your total SSI benefit may be reduced by $300 each month. If you would previously qualify for $1,200, you will now qualify only for $900. The SSI benefit takes into account all other sources of income and reduces your eligible benefit by that total amount before deciding your actual benefit. 

Could I get a refund if I draw SSI disability and long-term disability but paid no taxes last year?

You will have to pay taxes on your SSI disability payments if your income is greater than $25,000, or if you and your spouse file jointly, if your joint income is greater than $32,000. You may elect to have the taxes you owe withheld from your payments. As a result, if you did not pay taxes last year on your SSI disability payments, you will not be eligible to receive a refund this year unless you did not owe any taxes last year. In this case, your refund amount would be equal only to any excess payments you made this year by withholding money from your SSI checks. 

Can one make additional income while on SSI disability?

You can earn income outside of your SSI disability and continue to receive benefits. However, the amount of income you earn may reduce the benefits you are eligible for. In fact, if you make too much money, you will not be deemed disabled by the SSI any longer. To determine how much you can earn while still receiving benefits, talk with your state SSI office. Your total allowable SSI benefit will be reduced by any income you earn, and your SSI check will reflect the difference. If you earn an income higher than the SSI benefit, you will not receive SSI checks. For minors under the age of 18, the maximum allowable income is set across the board at $1,000 a month in 2010. 

How does WIC affect SSI disability payments?

When you apply for SSI disability benefits, you must disclose all forms of income you receive. This includes any federally supplied benefits such as those given to you through the Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC). The aim of these programs is to collectively provide you with the level of income you need to care for yourself and your family. Income you receive through one program will effectively reduce the amount you can receive from another. When you apply for SSI, be certain to disclose your WIC payments in order to prevent Social Security fraud.

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