There are basically two types of social security disability benefits: SSDI benefits and SSI benefits. SSDI stands for “social security disability insurance” and SSI stands for “supplemental security income.”
To qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits you must prove that you are “disabled.” Social Security will find you disabled if they decide that 1. Because of your health problems you cannot do work that you did before, 2. That you cannot adjust to other work, and 3. That your condition has lasted or is expected to last at least one year (or result in death).
To qualify for SSDI benefits you must not only prove that you are disabled, but you must also have worked in jobs covered by social security and obtained the requisite number of “work credits.” You must have worked long enough, and recently enough under social security to qualify. Social Security work credits are based on your total yearly wages or self employment income. You can earn up to four credits per year. The number of work credits you need to qualify for disability benefits depends on the age you become disabled. Generally, you need 40 work credits, 20 of which were earned ending in the last 10 years, ending with the year you became disabled.
To qualify for SSI benefits you must not only prove that you are disabled, but you must meet certain non–medical requirements as well. SSI is available only to people with very limited income and resources, regardless of disability. In other words, even a truly disabled person would not qualify for SSI if he or she made or had too much money or resources.
As of 2010, the “resource limit” is $2,000.00 for an individual and $3,000.00 for a married couple. In other words, if an individual has $2,000.00 and/or owns $2,000.00 worth of property, he would not qualify for SSI. There are some resources, however, that the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not include when calculating the resource limits. For example, the home you live in and one vehicle you or a family member uses for transportation is not included in establishing the value of your resources.
As for income, your “countable income” must not exceed a certain amount in order for you to qualify for SSI. These income limits vary by state, and also by the living arrangements of the individual. The SSA does not count all of your income, however, when determining whether the income limits have been met. For example, the first $20.00 per month of most income and the value of food stamps you receive is not counted.
If you have any questions about qualifying for either SSDI or SSI, contact me, an Atlanta Social Security Disability attorney, for a free consultation.