When discussing assets and disability, it is important to clarify the type of disability you are referring to. Social Security administers two very different programs that are both referred to as “Social Security Disability.” Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are both referred to as disability programs, but they have different rules.
Under SSI, you are limited to not more than $2,000 in countable assets for a single person or $3,000 for a couple. For the purposes of SSI, countable assets are classified as cash, stocks, bonds, saving, checking, and other things with a monetary value. For those receiving SSDI benefits, there is no limit on the assets you can possess. Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC can help.
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The Difference Between SSI and SSDI
SSI is cash assistance program for disabled persons with little or no work history. It is available to low-income people who have never worked or have not accumulated sufficient work credits to qualify for SSDI. The qualifications for SSI include:
- Having a medical condition that keeps you from working or is terminal
- Being 18 years old or older
- Being a United States citizen currently residing in the U.S.
SSDI is an insurance program administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). In order to qualify for SSDI, you must have worked for five of the last ten years and earned at least 20 work credits. Other qualifications include:
- A medical condition that prevents you from working for one or more years
- Being aged between 18 and 65
SSI is available for all U.S. citizens regardless of work history. SSDI is a disability insurance policy that workers pay into while working that pays benefits if they are no longer able to work.
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Asset Retention When Filing for SSI
Because SSI is a need-based program, the asset retention rules are strict. You may have an income, but that is limited to less than a range of $900 to $1,700 per month, depending on your circumstances. You are permitted a resource allocation of less than $2,000 for one person or $3,000 for a married couple.
Resource assets are classified as stocks and bonds, checking and savings accounts, and other things that have a saleable value. Assets that do not count toward the SSI limit are one house that you are living in, one car, household assets and furnishings, and certain types of saving plans designed to assist SSI recipients in gaining independence.
Applicants for SSI are also eligible for Medicaid benefits to cover healthcare costs. Some applicants may qualify for SNAP or TANF benefits also. While receiving SSI benefits, the SSA can check your savings and checking account balances.
Asset Retention When Filing for SSDI
Unlike the SSI program, there is no limit to the assets that can be retained while receiving benefits from the SSDI program. SSDI recipients may also receive unearned income such as dividends from stocks, bonds, or other investments.
You may work while receiving SSDI, but you are limited in the amount you may earn monthly. The amount you can earn in 2022 is not more than $1,350 monthly.
Working While on Disability
SSA classifies working as Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). If you are able to earn more than $1,350 per month SSA assumes that you are able to engage in gainful employment.
If you participate in volunteer programs, that time can be classified as SGA even though you are not drawing a wage. If you are able to provide a substantial number of volunteer hours of service, you may lose your disability designation.
There are ways to earn a higher wage, but you must prove that certain conditions exist. Some of those conditions may include:
- You were permitted odd hours or frequent breaks.
- Special equipment was made available.
- You were assigned tasks suited to your disability.
- You were allowed to work under lower production standards.
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Cost of Living Adjustments
Cost of living adjustments is not automatic for SSI and SSDI recipients, although annual adjustments are often made. Changes are based on the Consumer Price Index and vary from year to year.
Contact Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, for Help with SSI and SSDI
If you need assistance in filing for or appealing a decision in your disability claim, contact Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC. Our disability attorney, Andrea G. Farmer, is a certified specialist in Social Security Disability by the NC State Bar Board of Specialization, and she focuses on guiding clients through the process of disability claims.