Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) both provide benefits to people who are disabled and cannot work, but they are two different programs, each with unique qualifying criteria. To receive SSD or SSI, you have to meet not only the program’s medical requirements but also its non-medical qualifications. Non-medical requirements refer to your income, assets, and work history.

The two programs have the same medical requirements but substantially different non-medical requirements, one program operating as a government-run insurance program and the other as a welfare program. We have found that most of our clients who fail to qualify for SSD on a non-medical basis are able to qualify for SSI, and vice versa. On occasion, we can even help a client qualify for both programs concurrently.

Medical Qualifications for SSI and Social Security Disability

Both SSD and SSI require you to be disabled to receive disability benefits. Social Security does not grant partial disability for either program, so if you are found capable of sustaining gainful employment, you will not qualify for disability on a medical basis.

The Social Security Administration has a couple of ways to determine if it believes you are disabled and thus eligible for benefits. First, they can check if your condition meets the criteria for a Blue Book listing. The Blue Book is the SSA’s master list of states considered for automatic approval. To win disability based on a Blue Book condition, you not only need to have a valid diagnosis of that condition but also must satisfy all listed criteria in the Blue Book. Most applicants who win benefits do not do so based on a Blue Book listing, as the requirements are stringent and detailed, ruling out the majority of applicants.

The other way to show the SSA that you meet the medical requirements for SSD or SSI is to prove that your condition is functionally equivalent to a Blue Book condition. Functional equivalence refers to the way your situation prevents you from carrying out work duties and activities of daily living. We have several tools at our disposal, including the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) test, to show that your physical or mental impairment affects you the same as a Blue Book condition.

Non-Medical Qualifications for SSI

SSI, a means-tested benefit program for needy Americans, sets strict income and asset limits to qualify for benefits. If you make too much money or have too high a net worth, you can be denied SSI even if you meet the program’s medical requirements.

As of 2018, the SSI income limit is $750 per month for an individual and $1,125 per month for a couple. Your total assets are capped at $2,000 (individuals) or $3,000 (couples). However, not every dollar you make gets counted toward these limits. A lawyer can evaluate your financial documents and determine whether the income or asset caps might pose a challenge to getting approved for SSI.

Non-Medical Qualifications for Social Security Disability

SSD has more complex non-medical requirements, as they revolve around your work history and the amount you have paid into Social Security via your payroll taxes. The SSA gives you “credits” each year you work and pay taxes, with each credit equal to a certain amount of income.

The formula to determine if you have enough credits for SSD is complex and ever-changing, but if you have worked steadily and full-time for several years before applying for benefits, you should be fine. Your lawyer can review your work history to be sure.

Once approved, you may continue to work on a limited basis, but your earned income must not exceed $1,180 per month as of 2018. SSD does not place caps on how much money you may receive from non-work sources, such as investments and passive income.

Receiving Both SSI and Social Security Disability

In certain situations, you may draw benefits from both SSD and SSI; this is called concurrent benefits, and the way it happens is that you first get approved for SSDI but at a low monthly benefit amount, usually because of limited work history, and your little income then makes you eligible for SSI. Your attorney can help you navigate the process of receiving concurrent benefits.

To Schedule a Free Consultation About Your SSD or SSI Claim, Contact Us at 865-566-0800

The attorneys at the Disability Advantage Group, want to help you win Social Security Disability, SSI, or both. Our team focuses on Social Security law and can help you put together a winning claim. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 865-566-0800.