The Non-Medical Disability Requirements for SSD and SSI

by May 17, 2018Appeals

Home » Blog » Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) » The Non-Medical Disability Requirements for SSD and SSI

The non-medical disability requirements for SSD and SSI differ, but in general, they revolve around your income, assets, and work history. Both Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) have non-medical requirements you must meet to get approved for benefits. These requirements are in addition to the medical standards you have to satisfy before the SSA considers you eligible for disability.

While these requirements are relatively detailed and might seem imposing at first glance, the good news is that from our experience as Social Security disability attorneys, most of our clients who do not meet the non-medical requirements for SSD meet them for SSI, and most who fail to meet them for SSI satisfy them for SSD. On some occasions, we even have a client who qualifies for both and receives SSD and SSI concurrently.

The Non-Medical Requirements for SSD

Most of SSD’s non-medical requirements involve your work history. Because SSD operates as an insurance program, meaning you pay premiums into the plan to become eligible to draw benefits from the program when needed, you must have “insured” status to meet the non-medical requirements for SSD.

Work Credits

The “premiums” for SSD come from your payroll taxes, part of the Social Security taxes that get deducted automatically from each paycheck (or that you are responsible for paying on your own as self-employment taxes if you are not a W-2 employee).

For you to be “insured” the SSA requires you to have spent a sufficient amount into the system. The SSA measures how much you have paid in by issuing you credits each year based on your total income. The formula for calculating credits is complicated, but know that most people who have worked full-time for multiple years leading up to their disability, with few to no gaps, have insured status.

Substantial Gainful Activity

Another non-medical requirement for SSD is that your earnings from work cannot exceed what the SSA deems the threshold for substantial gainful activity (SGA). As of 2018, the SGA threshold is $1,180 per month. What this means is if you earn more than this amount per month from gainful employment, the SSA considers you able to work and thus not wholly disabled — a firm requirement for receiving any Social Security benefits — and as a result may deny your application for SSD or rescind your benefits if you are already winning them.

That said, as an SSD recipient, you do not have limits or caps on your income from non-work activities, such as investing.

The Non-Medical Requirements for SSI

Other than work history, which is not a factor when applying for SSI, the non-medical requirements for SSI are more stringent than for SSD. The reason is that SSI is not insurance but a benefit program for the needy. In other words, rather than your earlier contributions helping to fund your following benefits as with insurance or SSD, your SSI benefits ultimately come from other taxpayers. For this reason, the Social Security Administration sets rigid need-based standards to minimize the number of people who take advantage by collecting benefits they do not need or deserve.

To pass the SSI’s non-medical standards, both your monthly income and your total assets must be below certain thresholds. The 2018 income limit is $750 per month for individuals and $1,125 per month for couples. The most you can have in total assets is $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples.


SSI lets you exclude specific forms of work-related income when calculating your total earnings, while other income you can count at a lower amount, such as 50 cents on the dollar. Some assets are exempt, as well. Your attorney can review your financial statement and let you know where you stand.

If you have work-related income, you can still receive SSI as long as your qualified earnings (that which SSI counts toward the threshold) do not exceed $750 per month. But the more you make from work, the less you earn in SSI. As of 2018, the maximum SSI benefit is $750, the same as the income threshold.

Your income from other sources gets deducted from this amount. So if you have no other qualifying earnings besides SSI, you receive the full $750. But if you have $300 in qualifying earnings, you would only receive $450 each month from SSI.

To Schedule a Free Case Evaluation Call the Disability Advantage Group Today

The Disability Advantage Group, is a Social Security law firm, and our team members want to help you get the benefits you deserve by ensuring you make the non-medical disability requirements for SSD and SSI. We offer a free case evaluation where we can answer your questions. To schedule an appointment, call 865-566-0800 today.