Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “I applied for Social Security Disability Insurance for my serious kidney disease and was told I did not have enough work credits to qualify. Then I tried to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) but was told my husband makes too much money and we owned too many assets. I have a life-threatening kidney disease. How is it possible that I cannot get any type of disability benefits?”
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is awarded to claimants who have a severe health condition which does not allow them to work for at least 12 continuous months. Claimants must also have worked and paid taxes and earned work credits to be considered insured for SSDI benefits.
You mentioned you applied for SSDI benefits and you were denied. To be approved for SSDI benefits you must meet nonmedical and medical requirements. One of the first requirements reviewed is whether you are insured for benefits. If the SSA reviewed your work record and determined you were not insured, they would have automatically denied your claim. In fact, they would not have even bother to pull your health records and review the severity of your health condition before making their denial decision.
Supplemental Security Income Requirements
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is offered to claimants who are disabled, aged, or blind who are unable to work for at least 12 continuous months. Although the disability determination criteria is the same for both SSI and SSDI benefits, SSDI claimants do not have to have any type of work record and do not have to earn credits to qualify for SSI benefits.
Claimants do, however, have to have limited income and resources to qualify. This requirement brings us back to the heart of your question about your spouse’s income. Claimants can be denied SSI benefits even if they are disabled and cannot work if they are living with another person who is making too much money or if they have resources which exceed the SSI resource limit.
What are my options if I cannot get SSI benefits?
Unfortunately, you are in a tough spot. If you are so sick you cannot work, then it will be impossible to return to work and generate any more work credits to make you eligible for SSDI benefits. Consider also, SSDI credits cannot be bought or borrowed but must be earned on your own work record.
Additionally, although it might be possible to legally sell some of your assets and get your resource limits under the SSI limit, if your spouse has a great job and is currently making more than the SSI income limit then there’s probably not a good reason for him to try to lower his income just so you can get a few hundred dollars per month and Medicaid.
Although you can discuss your case with the SSA, most claimants in your position will not qualify for any type of governmental disability benefits unless their circumstances substantially change and they can reapply for SSI benefits.
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