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Supplemental Security income- Common Questions Part II

Claimants have many questions when they are attempting to get Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI). This blog will address several of the most common questions.

1.    Do my kids qualify for payments if I am receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Many claimants do not understand that Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI) are not offered to a claimant’s dependent children. This can be especially confusing if the claimant knows someone who is receiving disability benefits and their children are also receiving payments.

In these specific cases if the dependent children are receiving Social Security disability auxiliary benefits (benefits paid to dependent children and spouses) it is because the disability claimant is receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and not Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

SSDI is based on the claimant’s work history. If they qualify for SSDI it means the claimant has worked, paid taxes and has earned what the Social Security Administration (SSA) calls work credits. If the claimant has enough work credits and has contributed enough into the Social Security Administration system, when they become disabled their children may also qualify for SSDI auxiliary benefits. These benefits are not available for Supplemental Security Income claimants.

2.    How will the Social Security Administration determine if I am disabled and qualify for SSI benefits?

Claimants who are aged, blind or disabled and who are unable to work for 12 continuous months may receive Supplemental Security Income if their resources and income are limited. The method used to determine if a claimant is disabled for SSI is the same method used to determine if a claimant is disabled for SSDI.

This means that if you have been awarded SSI benefits it is because you did not have enough work credits for SSDI. This is the only difference between why a claimant would get SSI vs. SSDI.

So how does the Social Security Administration (SSA) make their disability determination? They review the claimant’s medical records and decide if the claimant is working, if the claimant’s condition is severe, if the claimant’s condition is expected to last for 12 continuous months, and if the claimant’s condition is on the SSA Listing of Impairments. If their condition is not on the listing they will use a process called a medical vocational allowance to determine if the claimant is able to work their previous job, their current job or retrain for new work.

This entire process is called the sequential evaluation process and it is a five step process which is used by all disability determination services offices.

3.    What resources and income can I have and still qualify for Supplemental Security Income?

Whether a claimant applies for Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance they cannot be working and performing what the Social Security Administration (SSA) calls “substantial gainful activity.” If the claimant is working at this level they will be denied Supplemental Security Income benefits even if their condition is very severe and expected to last for 12 continuous months.

The amount of resources claimants are allowed to have is a bit more confusing. In general, individuals can have $2,000 in resources and couples can have $3,000, but there are many resources which are exempt and are not included in the resource calculation.


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